Building the Expertise of the Next Generation of Philanthropic Leaders Through Competitive Evaluation

May 29, 2020

In philanthropy, more often than not, those seeking funding are engaged in a competition — even when the process is not explicitly categorized that way. A well-designed, well-run philanthropic competition creates value for all parties, from the clear benefit of additional funding for the "winners" to the learning opportunity presented to those who do not win to hone their story, articulate their impact, and possibly even improve their programs for the next go-round. What rarely gets discussed is the benefit of the competition for the proposal reviewers — the evaluators and decision makers — who also should be changed by and grow from the process.

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This spring, we had the opportunity to test this proposition firsthand. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors partnered with MacArthur Foundation-affiliate Lever for Change and the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School to bring a funding competition to MBA students. The students, enrolled in a course on Global Philanthropy for which Melissa Berman was the professor, were called on to review some of the top hundred contenders from MacArthur's 100&Change competition, ultimately selecting one proposed initiative to receive a $100,000 award.

The Project and Process

The students were separated into twelve teams, and each team chose an area of focus from among the world's most urgent challenges (as defined by the United Nations). Within its focus area, each team selected three projects, researched the issue area, defined the challenge, and reviewed potential solutions offered by the project proposals. The students evaluated their projects based on two sets of criteria. Berman developed one set for the Global Philanthropy course, which included:

  • the project's capacity for driving systems change (as distinct from scalability);
  • the level of authentic engagement with the communities served; and
  • the use of bottom-up approaches.

The other criteria for selecting a top contender were established by MacArthur, which had the students consider the degree to which the projects were impactful, evidence-based, feasible, and sustainable.

In conducting their evaluations, the students relied solely on the materials provided by the projects as part of their  100&Change competition entry. Given the quality, scope, and range of the projects, it was not an easy choice, and the students were called on to examine their values and assumptions. Students also found themselves reviewing the proposals through a new lens — their hope that the projects would still be relevant in a post-pandemic world. While the applications were submitted pre-pandemic, students soon realized that most projects were responsive to both the current situation and long-term systems change.

Students were further asked to assess "hard" and "soft" systems-change factors — a great model for philanthropy generally and for participating students specifically as they advance in their careers. Each team then developed a presentation, based on their own analysis of the criteria, aimed at convincing their peers that the project they selected was worthy of the $100,000 award.

The $100,000 Project Award

The first round of voting was inconclusive, with four projects within a vote of one another. (Students were prohibited from voting for their own team's project). The second round of voting, a four-way run-off among the highest-scoring projects, resulted in a clear winner: Mercy Corps' AgriFin initiative on Transforming Small-Scale Farming in the Face of Climate Change, which hopes to create a seamless network of 25 million small-scale farmers and help them adapt to a changing climate by using mobile-phone-accessible satellite technology in partnership with NASA and online, locally translated and contextualized education in collaboration with Digital Green. AgriFin received the $100,000 award because it effectively tackled inequity, poverty, and the impact of climate change through an innovative approach that directly involved those in the community.

Key Takeaways

Judging by their thorough, analytical presentations, the students — as decision makers — clearly benefited from this exercise. The in-depth process gave them a better understanding of the considerations that go into strategic grantmaking and helped them develop a sense of the rigor, complexity, and values-based leadership needed to create thoughtful and effective social change.

The process also serves as an example of how submissions for one program can fulfill criteria for other donors, thereby lessening the burden on high-impact organizations that might not apply for funding due to time, staff, or other resource constraints. That is an approach that builds on the mission of the Bold Solutions Network, which has collected all the top hundred proposals submitted to the 100&Change competition in a searchable online database.

Although the course lasted a mere six weeks, the future business and social sector leaders who participated learned some of the critical skills necessary for tackling the complex systems challenges facing society and the planet today. It also was a wonderful opening act for the $100 million award that will be announced in the spring of 2021. We have been thrilled with the collaboration between our two organizations and are delighted by how it stimulated thinking and enhanced conversations around systems change in both organizations, resulting in grant funding to Mercy Corps for its AgriFin project.

Melissa_berman_cecilia_conrad_for_PhilanTopic(Photo credit: Ezra Millstein)

Uniting to Protect and Empower Women Is Everyone's Responsibility

May 28, 2020

Top_domestic_violence_awareness_GettyImagesImagine cowering in fear from the person you once trusted more than any other. This is the reality for the one in three women globally who will be beaten, raped, or otherwise abused in their lifetimes. In the United States, domestic violence is one of the leading causes of death among women between the ages of 15 and 44, while an estimated 3.8 million people, most of them women and girls, are trafficked every year. 

At a time when gender equality has never been more important, turning a blind eye to violence against women is not an option. The systemic abuse of women, often at the intersection of color, class, and caste, is simply not acceptable. Unfortunately, the global COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge of violence against women that has shelters in the United States, China, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Spain, India, the United Kingdom, Uganda, South Africa, and France reeling. Even more worrisome are areas of the world where hotlines are not ringing because women cannot get away to make the phone call that may save their lives or where services do not exist to help those most at risk.

In normal times, women are the ties that bind our communities together. But increased violence against them is fraying this social contract and threatening not only women's lives but community cohesiveness. At this critical moment, philanthropic leadership is essential to ensure that the safety and security of women, here in the U.S. and around the globe, are protected. 

Fourteen years ago, the NoVo Foundation stepped up to fill a gap in sustainable funding for organizations working to end violence against women, while at the same time modeling a new approach to women-focused philanthropy. Long before many of its peers followed suit, the foundation made flexible, multiyear gifts that were larger than most government grants and cleverly designed to unlock the promise of long-term change. In the years that followed, NoVo's leadership in the women's space had a huge impact in terms of breaking the silence around the scourge that is violence against women. It took a decade for the impact of that funding to become clear, but then countries such as Iraq and Sudan started to pass laws that criminalized domestic violence and practices like female genital mutilation. Justice had begun to raise its sleepy head. Indeed, inspired by the trust-based philanthropy modeled by the foundation, I made my first large commitment in this area. NoVo had changed the rules, and women around the world could not have been more grateful. 

Tragically, last week the foundation, in a letter posted on its website, announced that it had decided to scale back its extensive investment in organizations working to end violence against women. 

Women and women's organizations around the world were shocked and, a week later, are still reeling.

Historically, women and girls have largely been largely overlooked by donors, with only 1.6 percent of Americans' charitable giving directed their way. And the risk for women and girls will grow exponentially as women's unemployment hits double digits for the first time since the Great Recession and critical programs are dismantled due to lack of funds. 

At Women Moving Millions, we prioritize investment in women and girls because we know, and research has shown, that it is the most effective way to drive impact for everyone. We also recognize that we have a shared responsibility to ensure that communities which have borne the brunt of the pandemic have the resources they need to recover, and that the decisions we make today will impact what happens tomorrow — and for years to come. 

Trust-based investment in grassroots organizations led by women who are proximate to the issues rooted in gender discrimination is the only long-term, sustainable answer to centuries of patriarchy and white privilege. In the weeks and months ahead, philanthropy has an obligation to stay the course and even double down in support of women's groups at risk of losing their funding. 

Social change does not happen overnight. In this moment of uncertainty, opting out or scaling back is not an option. It is time for all of us to unite in shared purpose to protect women from violence and empower them as agents of change.

Mona_Sinha_for_PhilanTopicS. Mona Sinha is an advocate for gender equality in business and society and the board chair of Women Moving Millions, a community of women who look to fund "big and bold" ($1 million+) to create a gender-equal world. She is a member of the ERA Coalition, which seeks to include a constitutional amendment of equality on the basis of sex; is a trustee emerita of Smith College, where she served as vice chair of the board and led the Women for the World campaign; and serves on numerous educational and nonprofit boards.

The Forgotten Sector?

May 27, 2020

20180602_USP501All nonprofit organizations, large or small, have one thing in common — they exist to provide a public benefit. Although smaller nonprofits, defined provisionally as having five hundred employees or fewer, have been able to take advantage of government lending programs established in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak — the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) — larger nonprofits have not. This is a major and potentially catastrophic oversight.

This oversight reflects the government's tunnel-vision tendency to view the economy and threats to the economy primarily through the lens of for-profit entities — i.e., big and small businesses. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is not just our balance sheets that are at risk during this crisis. The U.S. social safety net, already threadbare, is in danger of collapse. Nonprofit organizations, especially the larger ones, are the last line of defense for millions in the fight to keep themselves from falling into abject poverty, illness, and despair.

The U.S. nonprofit sector is large, with annual expenditures of $2.5 trillion dollars. It employs 12 million people, the third-largest workforce in the country, behind retail and manufacturing. In and of itself, it is a significant part of our economy. But in the government's zeal to protect the health of the business sector, the essential role played by the nonprofit sector in safeguarding the health and safety of our most vulnerable citizens has been ignored.

A just-released analysis of the sector's financial vulnerability — Main Street Lending 2.0: A Proposal to Support Our Most Vital Nonprofits — by SeaChange Capital Partners and based on data provided by Candid, characterizes the COVID-19 crisis as "an extinction-level event" for nonprofit organizations. In other words, not only are the vital services provided by the sector at risk of being lost, so are untold numbers of nonprofit sector jobs.

Large nonprofits are a vital component of the nation's social safety net. Social services nonprofits, in particular, are providing resources to meet the needs of struggling families, including  frontline healthcare workers, such as food assistance, housing, and emergency childcare. As the SeaChange report points out, "Large nonprofits tend to be particularly important in areas like residential care (e.g., homeless shelters, foster care, homes for the developmentally disabled, etc.) where smaller organizations do not have the capacity (technology, HR, finance, compliance, etc.) or the scale to do the work."

What's more, nonprofits that provide social services operate with very slim margins. This is true not just of small nonprofits but of large ones as well. Here are some key facts from the report:

  • In the U.S., 1,548 large nonprofits provide social services.
  • Those nonprofits have annual expenses of $121 billion and total revenues of $123 billion.
  • The median social services nonprofit: operates with a margin of just 1 percent; receives just 6 percent of its revenue from philanthropy; has total financial assets equivalent to 1.9 months of expenses; and has operating reserves of less than a month of expenses.

Again, these are the large social services nonprofits, those with five hundred or more employees. And, as the analysis makes clear, many of them operate on the brink of insolvency even in normal times.

The SeaChange report argues forcefully that the eligibility requirements of the PPP and MSLP need to be modified to accommodate the crisis-related needs of both large nonprofit organizations as well as smaller ones. "PPP is already available," the report's authors write

to for-profit groups with more than 500 employees, provided they meet two conditions: (i) net income of $5.0 million or less and (ii) tangible net worth of $15 million or less. Unfortunately, the [Small Business Administration] has indicated in some of its guidance that nonprofits are not eligible under these criteria. Nonprofit ineligibility makes zero sense. Why would otherwise eligible organizations established for public purposes be less worthy of PPP assistance than those established for private gain?

Where the rules of the PPP thoughtlessly exclude many nonprofit organizations while including for-profit organizations with the same financial characteristics, the Main Street Lending Program ignores nonprofit organizations altogether.

The Federal Reserve has stated that "while nonprofit organizations are not currently eligible under the MSLP program, we acknowledge the unique needs of nonprofit organizations, many of which are on the front lines providing critical services and research to fight the pandemic...and will be evaluating the feasibility of adjusting the borrower eligibility criteria and loan eligibility metrics of the program for such organizations."

How is it that the nonprofit sector finds itself in such an absurd situation?

The U.S. federal government is good at paying attention to some things, and less to others. It is massively concerned with the financial health of the business sector, especially large businesses, as primary drivers of the U.S. economy. It honors and understands the important role of small businesses, as demonstrated by the existence of the Small Business Administration.

Because the federal government cares about the health of business, it knows a lot about the business sector and collects massive amounts of data on the sector on a continuous basis. Indeed, it knows so much about "small businesses" that it has a comprehensive 49-page document listing the specific size requirements that businesses across more than a thousand North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) categories must meet in order to qualify as "small" and be eligible for assistance from the SBA.

There is no such set of standards for defining what constitutes a large or small nonprofit organization. And the job of amassing and organizing basic data on the organizational health of the nonprofit sector has been left to the sector itself. If not for organizations such as Candid, the Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, and a handful of others, such data would not be available at all.

All of this means that when legislative relief packages are being considered during times like these, our government has no systematic means at its disposal for assessing and responding to the financial needs of the U.S. nonprofit sector. Hence, the sector is treated as an afterthought, with resulting legislation that looks like the PPP and MSLP.

Although I've focused on social service nonprofits in this post, the SeaChange report discusses the economic challenges currently faced by all large U.S. nonprofits, including hospitals and health care, higher education, and arts and cultural organizations. It is MUST reading.

The COVID-19 crisis has stretched the capacity and resources of many nonprofit organizations to the breaking point. Without immediate attention to the financial challenges U.S. nonprofit organizations are facing, huge holes will be ripped in the nation’s social safety net, leading to catastrophic consequences for millions of U.S. citizens.

The government has largely outsourced the job of maintaining the social safety net to the nonprofit sector. But having outsourced much of this work, it has apparently forgotten that it still bears a fundamental responsibility to ensure that the basic survival needs of the nation’s most vulnerable populations are met. Every American requires and deserves at least a minimal level of protection from the fallout created by COVID-19.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Headshot_Larry_McGillLarryLarry McGill is vice president of research at Candid. This post originally appeared on the Candid blog. For more from Larry, check out the PhilanTopic archive.

Corporations Ramp Up Support for COVID-19 Response Efforts (May 1-15, 2020)

May 24, 2020

SARS-CoV-2As COVID-19 spreads globally and in the United States, corporations and their foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. The  roundup below captures some of the corporate activity in response to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. (In many cases, larger gifts have been covered separately as part of PND's daily news feed.) Items are sorted in alpha order by company name.

For more coverage, check out PND's COVID-19 page and Candid's COVID-19 popup page.

The Akamai Foundation, a charitable fund endowed by Cambridge-based Akamai Technologies, has announced a $1.1 million commitment in support of global COVID-19 relief efforts. The commitment includes grants totaling nearly $500,000 to twenty-nine organizations providing medical care, support for health clinics, food assistance, and emergency child care in sixteen countries where Akamai employees live and work.

Amazon has announced a commitment of $3.9 million over three years through its Amazon Future Engineer program to CodeVA in support of that organization's efforts to provide computer science education and training to high-needs school in Virginia. Since the COVID-19 public health emergency began, the nonprofit has conducted live online code-along events, including free bi-weekly AP computer science exam prep sessions, and has developed unplugged computer science education resources for students lacking good Internet connectivity.

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has announced grants totaling $260,000 to address food insecurity in Ohio communities. Grants include $135,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, $100,000 to Feeding America, $50,000 to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, and $25,000 to the Children's Hunger Alliance. The foundation also announced commitments totaling more than $1.9 million to nonprofits serving communities and families elsewhere hit hard by COVID-19. Recipients include United Way's Statewide Coronavirus Recovery Program ($25,000), Virginia's Feeding America food banks ($125,000), the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education ($100,000), Boys & Girls Clubs of America ($135,000), and Senior Services of Southeast Virginia ($37,000).

The Avista Foundation in Spokane, Washington, has announced a second round of grants in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, including $129,000 to local United Way agencies and $100,000 to forty-five food pantries across the utility company's service area.

The Avon Foundation for Women has announced emergency grants totaling $1 million to help address the surge in domestic violence resulting from COVID-related shelter-in-place restrictions around the globe. Grants were awarded to fifty organizations in thirty-seven countries providing support for at-risk women and children, including Women's Aid (United Kingdom), the National Shelter Network (Mexico), and the Family Planning Association (India).

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation has awarded grants totaling more than $825,000 to forty community-based organizations providing healthcare, childcare, and other services for essential workers; emergency food shelf and delivery services for vulnerable populations; assistance for people facing economic insecurity, homelessness, or housing insecurity; and anti-xenophobia and anti-bias efforts related to COVID-19.

The Booz Allen Foundation has announced the launch of a $1 million Innovation Fund to support the development of creative solutions to the wide-ranging impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The fund will award grants of up to $100,000 to help nonprofits, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, innovators at colleges and universities, and startups and small businesses harness the power of data, technology, and intellectual capital to improve COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts.

Cambia Health Foundation in Portland, Oregon, has announced a $3 million commitment in support of efforts to meet the needs of underserved communities and frontline providers while strengthening healthcare infrastructure in the region. The funding includes grants totaling $1 million to four community health associations — Oregon Primary Care Association, Washington Association for Community Health, Association for Utah Community Health, and Idaho Primary Care Association — that support the work of Federally Qualified Health Centers. Grants also were awarded to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and other organizations to provide tools, information, and training for faster COVID-19 symptom assessment and management, strengthen compassionate patient and family communications, and speed the adoption of telehealth services.

The Catalyst Housing Group has announced the launch of the Essential Housing Fund, which will focus its initial efforts on reducing rental housing costs for teachers in Marin County, California, where the local school district faces significant state budget cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Seeded with a donation of $100,000 from Catalyst, the fund will help qualified teacher households secure discounted rents in a rental community Catalyst recently acquired in partnership with the California Community Housing Agency.

The First Responders Children's Foundation in New York City has announced a $1 million commitment from Cisco Systems in support of first responders working to address COVID-19 outbreaks across the United States. The gift will provide financial assistance to emergency medical technicians, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, dispatchers, and medical personnel treating COVID-19 patients, as well as college scholarships for the children of those who have died working on the front lines of the pandemic.

In the wake of COVID-related school closures, the Duke Energy Foundation has announced grants totaling $382,000 in support of K-12 education groups in Indiana focused on summer reading, STEM, and experiential learning programs.

Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation has announced a $200,000 partnership with First Descents to launch an outdoor adventure program designed to help nurses and other healthcare professionals cope with traumatic stress stemming from their work on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. First Descents, which provides adventure-based healing experiences for young adults impacted by cancer and other serious health conditions, will create wellness programs aimed at nurturing supportive peer relationships for a thousand healthcare workers in cities hard hit by COVID-19, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and New York City.

Emergen-C, a health-beverage company, has announced a $500,000 grant to Americares in support of the organization's efforts to deliver much-needed protective supplies — masks, gowns, gloves, and disinfectants — and provide skill-building workshops and emotional support for frontline health workers.

Entergy Corporation has announced contributions totaling $1.3 million from shareholders to its COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund in support of United Way and other nonprofits working to assist customers and communities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, and Texas impacted by the virus. Grants awarded to date include $100,000 from Entergy Louisiana to help create the Fueling the Fight fund with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation; a donation of more than $385,000 from Entergy Mississippi to create the Mississippi Relief Fund, with funds to be shared by fifteen area nonprofits; and a $300,000 contribution from Entergy Texas to the Southeast Texas Relief Fund in support of nine nonprofits serving twenty-two counties.

Georgia Pacific's Angel Soft brand has pledged up to $2 million to the #GiveTogetherNow initiative, a rapid-response fund launched to provide direct cash assistance to families impacted by COVID-19. In addition to contributing $1 million to the fund, the brand will match up to $1 million in additional donations.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has announced a $500,000 donation and an additional $500,000 dollar-for-dollar match from Gilead Sciences for all new donations to its Emergency Grants for Pandemic Relief initiative. The initiative also received $300,000 from the MAC Viva Glam Fund, $250,000 from ViiV Healthcare, and $100,000 from the P. Austin Family Foundation. The funds will enable Broadway Cares to provide grants to HIV/AIDS and service organizations across the country whose resources have been stretched by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Hancock Whitney in Gulfport, Mississippi, has announced commitments totaling $2.5 million in support of vulnerable Gulf Coast communities impacted by COVID-19. Investments include $1 million for the restocking of local food pantries; $600,000 for the purchase of protective supplies for residents in low- to moderate-income communities as well as first responders; $800,000 in support of housing relief, including legal services for those fighting illegal eviction; and $100,000 for the Hancock Whitney Associate Assistance Fund.

Intercontinental Exchange has announced grants totaling $10 million in support of frontline responders in the thirty-five cities where it has offices. Grants were awarded to forty-one nonprofits, including Atlanta Partners for Education, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Boston Foundation, Greater Chicagoland Food Depository, National Emergencies Trust (United Kingdom), New York Community Trust, New York City Police Foundation, and Telangana CM Relief (India).

Intouch Group, a pharmaceuticals marketing solutions agency based in Overland Park, Kansas, has announced a donation of more than $100,000 to Heart to Heart International, an NGO focused on improving access to healthcare services. The funding will support the organization's efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, enable it to provide infection prevention and control (IPC) training to nonprofits, and match Intouch employee donations toward the distribution of HHI hygiene kits, which include items such as gloves, cloth face coverings, and hand-sanitizing wipes.

Mary Kay has announced cash and product donations worth nearly $10 million in support of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its impacts on vulnerable populations. Efforts to assist frontline responders and others include the manufacture and donation of hand sanitizer to hospitals and healthcare systems, CARE, and other organizations; grants awarded through the Mary Kay Foundation to domestic violence shelters; and donations in support of efforts to secure COVID-19 tests, ventilators, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Mastercard and the PepsiCo Foundation have announced the launch of Westchester Strong with Healthcare Heroes, a two-year, $1 million fund in support of White Plains Hospital staff working on the front lines of the public health emergency. Initially, the program will focus on funding the purchase of critical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as the hospital's efforts to meet government requirements to increase its capacity, before shifting to supporting the well-being of frontline staff.

Northern Trust has announced that it is providing $100 million in low-cost funding to assist community development financial institutions working to provide loans to small businesses and nonprofit organizations under the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The funding includes $50 million to the Self-Help Fund, $25 million to the National Development Council's CDFI Subsidiary Grow America Fund, and $10 million to immito, the SBA subsidiary of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

Northwestern Mutual has announced a gift of more than $200,000 through the Northwestern Mutual Foundation to Children's Wisconsin to help provide PPE as well as food relief and support. The donation includes $100,000 for replacement lenses for Controlled Air Purifying Respirators used by medical teams and more than $6,000 in meal gift cards for healthcare workers and inpatient families at the Children's Wisconsin MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Northwestern Mutual also is partnering with the Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Florentine Opera, and First Stage, which have tasked their costume-making departments to sew masks, gowns, and face shields for hospital staff.

The Sozosei Foundation, a U.S.-based private foundation established by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, has announced grants totaling $438,000 to four nonprofits providing support services to patients, healthcare workers, and families impacted by COVID-19. Recipients include the American Kidney Fund's Coronavirus Emergency Fund, which received $150,000 to provide financial assistance to low-income dialysis and post-transplant patients who are struggling to pay for essentials; the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Mental Health America; and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and its foundation have announced contributions totaling $150,000 to nonprofits in northern and central California working to address food insecurity among vulnerable senior citizens during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Part of a $1 million commitment announced in March, the grants will support fifteen organizations, including Meals on Wheels.

The PepsiCo Foundation has announced a $50,000 contribution in support of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina's 2020 Stop Summer Hunger Program. According to the foundation, the public health emergency has negatively affected access to food and other essentials in communities across the country, including twenty-two million students who received low-cost or free meals via the National School Lunch program before schools were closed. PepsiCo and its foundation previously announced commitments of more than $50 million to help provide meals for vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19, PPE for healthcare workers, and testing and screening services.

Regions Foundation, an Alabama-based nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank, has announced grants totaling $260,000 as part of the bank and foundation's $5 million commitment to COVID-19 relief efforts. Ten nonprofits assisting small businesses impacted by the coronavirus, including Business and Community Lenders of Texas, Neighborhood Concepts, Inc. – North Alabama Revolving Loan Fund, and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, will receive grants.

The St. Louis-based Reinsurance Group of America has announced that the RGA Foundation has awarded grants totaling $1.5 million in support of global COVID-19 relief efforts. Recipients include Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, the SSM Health Foundation – St. Louis Urgent Response Fund, the American Red Cross, and the St. Louis Community Foundation's Gateway Resilience Fund and COVID-19 Regional Response Fund. The foundation also is matching employee donations to nonprofits helping those directly impacted by the pandemic.

Ross Stores and the Ross Stores Foundation have announced a joint commitment of $1.5 million in support of local and national nonprofits providing essential COVID-19 relief services, including educational resources for students, support services for families of first responders, and PPE for healthcare workers. Grant recipients include the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, First Book, and food banks in New York City and California.

SunCoast Credit Union in Tampa has announced a $1 million commitment — the largest in its eighty-six-year history — in support of relief efforts in the communities where it operates. To be awarded through the SunCoast Credit Union Foundation, the grants will support local nonprofits working in the areas of health care, food insecurity, and education.

Based in Toronto and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, TD Bank Group has announced an initial commitment of $25 million to the TD Community Resilience Initiative. The commitment includes a pledge of $13 million to help meet the immediate, short-term needs of current TD grantees; community initiatives designed to support individuals' financial security, including income stability and affordable housing; and $2 million in support of frontline healthcare workers and community health centers in Canada. Another $2 million will fund a matching- employee-donation program for COVID-19 relief efforts, while $10 million awarded through the bank's annual grantmaking program will support innovative recovery efforts.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has announced a $5 million contribution from the Texas Instruments Foundation in support of COVID-19 relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in North Texas. The gift brings to over $11.6 million the total United Way Metropolitan Dallas has raised to address immediate and long-term needs in the areas of education, income security, and health outcomes — $2.9 million of which was awarded to more than two hundred community-based organizations.

Small business software maker Thryv has announced a third round of grants through its foundation's Small Business COVID-19 Grant Program. Grants of between $2,500 and $15,000 were awarded to small businesses struggling to survive in the face of the public health emergency, including Girl Contracting (Philadelphia), Kathy Mays Lakeview Café (Huntington Beach, California), and Taylor's Tacos (Chicago).

The farmer-owners of Tillamook County Creamery Association in Oregon have announced a $4 million relief plan to help employees, communities, and industry partners respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. As part of the effort, the company will significantly increase its direct-to-community product donations and grants in support of nonprofits and community organizations. Grant recipients include the Oregon Food Bank ($200,000), the Oregon Community Foundation ($100,000), Tillamook County Action Resource Enterprises, Inc. ($20,000), the Tillamook County Wellness program ($15,000), the Tillamook Early Learning Center ($10,000), and the Oregon State University Foundation ($5,000).

And the United Health Foundation has announced a $500,000 grant to University of Chicago Medicine in support of expanded COVID-19 testing in underserved communities. Part of the foundation's $70 million commitment to address the impacts of COVID-19, the grant will be used by UChicago Medicine and South Side Healthcare Collaborative clinics and community hospitals to test up to a thousand residents a day on the South Side, one of the hardest-hit areas in the city, and provide personal protective equipment and contact tracing training for clinical staff.

Verizon has announced a $2.5 million grant to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to assist small business owners impacted by the coronavirus. In the third round of funding awarded through LISC's Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund, two hundred and twenty-five small business owners across the United States received grants of $10,000 to help them cover wages, rent, and other immediate operational costs. With its latest donation, Verizon has given a total of $7.5 million to the fund. The company also announced a $1 million donation to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund in support of efforts to organize and coordinate resources aimed at mitigating the medical, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the state's most vulnerable communities.

The Visa Foundation has announced grants totaling $8.8 million in support of global COVID-19 relief efforts from a $10 million fund announced in April, including $1 million for hunger relief in the United States and Canada. Recipients include the American Red Cross, the Asia Foundation, Children's Aid, Direct Relief, Feeding America, Food Banks Canada, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, and UNICEF.

And Phoenix-based Western Alliance Bank has committed $2 million to address the impacts of COVID-19 in communities where it operates and strengthen their resilience to future disasters. The funds will address shortages of PPE for first responders, food insecurity, and tech-related online learning needs, as well as provide support for small businesses, pediatric care, and the most vulnerable populations in the region

________

"Akamai Foundation Announces Global COVID-19 Charitable Giving." Akamai Foundation Press Release 05/06/2020.

"Amazon Donates $3.9 Million to CodeVA to Expand Computer Science Education for 500,000 Students and Training for 12,000 Teachers." Amazon Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Directs $260,000 to Address Ohio Food Insecurity in Response to COVID-19." Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Commits $1.9 Million to Virginia Charities as Part of Coordinated Response to COVID-19." Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Press Release 01/18/2038.

"Avista Foundation Provides Funding to Area Food Banks and United Way." Avista Foundation Press Release 04/27/2020.

"The Avon Foundation for Women Issues $1 Million to Frontline Domestic Abuse Services." Avon Foundation for Women Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation Contributes $1.1 Million to Support Communities During Covid-19 Pandemic." Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Booz Allen Foundation Launches $1M Innovation Fund to Support COVID-19 Solutions." Booz Allen Foundation Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Cambia Health Foundation Commits $3 Million To Address COVID-19 Immediate Impacts." Cambia Health Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Catalyst Housing Group Launches Nonprofit Housing Fund Targeting Marin County Teachers." Catalyst Housing Group Press Release 05/05/2020.

"First Responders Children’s Foundation Receives $1 Million From Cisco Systems to Support Financial Grants for First Responders on the Front Lines." First Responders Children's Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Duke Energy Foundation Provides Funds to Indiana K-12 Education Organizations During COVID-19 Crisis." Duke Energy Foundation Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation and First Descents Launch First-of-its-Kind Program Supporting Healthcare Professionals With Traumatic Stress from COVID-19." Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Emergen-C® Looks Toward a Time When We Can “Emerge Our Best” and Supports Health Workers in Need With New Campaign." Emergen-C Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Entergy Commits US$1.3 Million for COVID-19 Relief." Entergy Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Angel Soft® Rolls Out Partnership with #GiveTogetherNow to Help Families Impacted by COVID-19." Georgia Pacific Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The Angel Soft® Brand Pledges Up to $2 Million to #GiveTogetherNow Initiative Providing Direct Financial Relief to Families Impacted by COVID-19." Georgia Pacific Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Emergency Grants for Pandemic Relief to Support HIV/AIDS and Service Organizations." Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Press Release 05/06/2020.

"Hancock Whitney Pledges $2.5 Million Investment in COVID-19 Community Relief." Hancock Whitney Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Intercontinental Exchange Commits $10 Million to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts Around the World." Intercontinental Exchange Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Intouch Group Announces Anti-COVID-19 Partnership with Nonprofit Heart to Heart International." Intouch Group Press Release 05/06/2020.

"Mary Kay Inc. Commits Nearly $10 Million to Global COVID-19 Support." Mary Kay Press Release 04/29/2020.

"'Westchester Strong with Healthcare Heroes' Strengthens Local COVID-19 Response and Recovery." Mastercard and PepsiCo Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Northern Trust Provides $100 million in Small Business Support." Northern Trust Corporation Press Release 05/11/2020.

"Northwestern Mutual Commits More Than $200,000 to Children's Wisconsin for COVID-19 Relief." Northwestern Mutual Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Sozosei Foundation Announces Donations of $439,000 to Support Those With Mental Health and Kidney Diseases." Sozosei Foundation Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Sozosei Foundation Donates $150,000 to American Kidney Fund Coronavirus Emergency Fund for Low-Income Dialysis and Transplant Patients." American Kidney Fund Press Release 04/27/2020.

"The PepsiCo Foundation Announces Grant to North Carolina Food Bank." PepsiCo Press Release 05/06/2020.

"PG&E and The PG&E Corporation Foundation Contribute $150,000 to Organizations Providing Meals for Vulnerable Seniors During COVID-19." PG&E Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Regions Foundation Announces Additional Grants for CDFIs and Community Organizations Supporting Small Businesses." Regions Foundation Press Release 05/11/2020.

"RGA Foundation Commits $1.5 Million to Support COVID-19 Response." Reinsurance Group of America Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Ross Stores Donates $1,500,000 to COVID-19 Relief Efforts." Ross Stores Press Release 04/24/2020.

"SunCoast Credit Union Supports Coronavirus Relief Efforts With $1 Million Contribution." SunCoast Credit Union Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The TD Community Resilience Initiative Allocates $25 Million to Organizations Engaged In COVID-19 Response and Community Recovery." TD Bank Group Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Texas Instruments Foundation Donates $5 Million to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas." United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Thryv Small Business Foundation Wires Third Round of Grant Money to Recipients of Its Small Business COVID-19 Grant Program." Thryv Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Thryv Foundation Delivers Third Round of Grants For Businesses in Need." Thryv Blog Post 05/04/2020.

"Extraordinary Challenges Require Extraordinary Responses." Tillamook County Creamery Association Press Release 05/08/2020.

"United Health Foundation Donates $500,000 to University of Chicago Medicine to Support Expanded COVID-19 Testing in Underserved Communities." United Health Foundation Press Release 04/28/2020.

"'Light at the End of the Tunnel': LISC & Verizon Announce First Recipients of Small Business Grants." Local Initiatives Support Corporation Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Verizon Expands COVID-19 Small Business Support Up to $7.5M With New Grant to LISC." Verizon Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Verizon Donates $1 Million to New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund." Verizon Press Release 05/08/2020.

"The Visa Foundation Announces Grantees to Support COVID-19 Recovery in U.S. and Canada." Visa Foundation Press Release 05/12/2020.

"The Visa Foundation Commits to COVID-19 Recovery." Visa Foundation Press Release 05/12/2020.

"Western Alliance Bank Announces $2 Million Donation to Strengthen, Protect Communities Impacted by COVID-19." Western Alliance Bank Press Release 05/11/2020.

Support Children and Youth to Prevent the Next Pandemic

May 21, 2020

GettyImages-518275278-1600x1068As doctors and nurses struggle to cope with the impacts of SARS-CoV-2, scientists are racing to develop a vaccine that will stop the virus in its tracks and prevent further harm to people's health and livelihoods. Their efforts are a striking testament to the power of education. In this moment of crisis, our collective well-being depends on our ability to outsmart the virus.

I was struck by the central role played by education in this global public health emergency while speaking earlier this spring with children and youth in Florida and in Debre Tabor and Debre Markos, in Ethiopia. Although the kids I spoke to live in markedly different societies, the threat posed by the coronavirus and its impact on their education are something they all have in common.

Indeed, their future depends on the virus not only being defeated but on the global community making sure it has the tools it needs to prevent the next pandemic. And that means we must invest in the education that children, all over the world, need and so desperately desire.

Seeing the Children

Early on in this pandemic, I started to worry that the concerns of children and youth — who, even in the best of times, often are unseen — might fade into invisibility as the world focused its attention elsewhere. But while the United Nations and World Health Organization both have said that children are less likely to contract COVID-19 than their parents or grandparents, their education, nutrition, safety, and health increasingly are being put at risk by the crisis.

In Ethiopia, I spoke with sixteen-year-old Abeba, who has dreams of being a doctor, and eighteen-year-old Fassil, who has not let blindness deter him from pursuing his dream of becoming a lawyer. Naturally, COVID-19 is uppermost in their minds, not least because their schools have been closed for the rest of the year. When I asked them what made them feel safe and happy, both mentioned learning and school, and both told me that they viewed their teachers as an important part of their support system. Abeba is lucky to have a family to lean on, although her mother's small restaurant has been closed by the pandemic, leaving the family in a precarious financial situation. Fassil lives alone, and without school to go to he is increasingly isolated. Although the Ethiopian government has promised to disseminate primary and secondary school instruction via radio and television, many households in Ethiopia, including Fassil’s, do not have access to either. For now, Abeba's and Fassil's lives are on hold.

This is a global problem. According to UNESCO, a hundred and ninety-one countries have implemented nationwide school closures, and several other countries — including the United States — have localized closures. Globally, 90 percent of students — 1.58 billion learners — are today out of school because of the pandemic. As the lockdowns continue, concerns about the educational progress of this generation are mounting. "How can we make up for the loss of learning?" Abeba's mother asked during our call.

In Florida, I spoke with Lesley, an articulate and ambitious fourteen-year-old. She learned quite a lot about COVID-19 in school and worries about its impact on her community. While she is participating in her school's distance-learning efforts, she misses in-person classes and being able to see her friends every day. Lesley lives in the SOS Children's Village in Florida, and what I found most heartening about our conversation was her appreciation for the SOS foster family that supports her and gives her the strength to persevere during this uncertain and anxious time. Looking back on these conversation, I am moved by how tightly education and family are linked in the words and experiences of these teenagers, who lead very different lives, half a world apart.

Looking Beyond COVID-19

In listening to these young people talk about their lives, I also was struck by how far we have progressed, as a global society, over the last few decades. The UN Millennial Development Goals, developed in 2000, once seemed utopian, but advances in standards of living, literacy, and other measures associated with those goals are today widely taken for granted. Primary-school enrollment in the developing world, for instance, has risen to 91 percent. Vulnerable children like Abeba, Fassil, and Lesley increasingly are receiving the education and support they need to become professionals and have a positive impact on their communities and the wider world around them.

Looking at all the progress we've made, I know this: we cannot afford to go backward.

But with the International Monetary Fund forecasting a 3 percent decline in global growth for the year ahead — a decline that would rival any see during the worst years of the Great Depression — and with schools shuttered for the foreseeable future, will our progress be derailed? In the U.S., one study found that it took two entire years for students in New Orleans impacted by Hurricane Katrina to fully recover their lost learning.

If support for education and families is cut back during this crisis, we will forfeit the intellectual capital needed to ensure that any recovery from the crisis is sustainable — capital that also underpins our ability to anticipate and prevent future pandemics.

As we struggle to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2, we need to simultaneously address pressing needs that existed pre-pandemic and lay the groundwork for the post-pandemic world that will emerge from crisis. That means making smart investments in the world's children and youth so that they can contribute fully to the resilience, adaptability, and future flourishing of their communities.

More concretely, it means:

  • Providing more and better preventive care for families and keeping children safe, healthy, educated, and fed.
  • Making sure that all children and youth are able to continue their education, whether through remote learning or other locally appropriate solutions, while schools are closed.
  • Delivering skills training opportunities for youth that prepare them to be self-sufficient as local economies restart.

It is too early to say what the social, economic, and psychological damage caused by this pandemic will be. What we do know is that children and youth are integral to a full recovery from this once-in-a-century crisis, and that the knowledge, skills, and fortitude they develop over the next year or three will serve them well when, as adults, they will be the ones expected to mount an effective response to the next pandemic.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Headshot_neil_ghoshNeil Ghosh (@neilghosh4) is president and chief executive officer of SOS Children’s Villages USA and founder of the Global Youth Initiative and SNV USA. An advocate of disruptive integration, Ghosh spends much of his time focused on advancing nimble cross-sectoral collaboration in support of sustainable development.

The Solution for Saving Mom-and-Pop Businesses

May 18, 2020

Small_businessThe COVID-19 pandemic has upended the U.S. economy, leaving every community facing tremendous uncertainty. One thing is clear, however: low- and moderate-income communities and the small businesses they support will suffer the most if we do not move quickly to address their needs.

Although Congress passed a $310 billion Paycheck Protection Program in April, many small businesses and nonprofits were left out. And the program has yet to reach many of the most marginalized in our communities, especially small businesses owned by people of color. Indeed, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, 95 percent of African American-owned businesses and 91 percent of Latinx-owned businesses likely will not be able to access the program. 

To help remedy the problem, the federal government has allocated $30 billion through the program to "community financial institutions" to enable them to be more inclusive in their lending to businesses that have been ignored.  But even with a portion of PPP funds set aside for institutions like community development financial institutions (CDFIs), minority-owned banks, and credit unions, the level of funding earmarked for those lenders is insufficient to meet the scale of the problem.  

To save mom-and-pop businesses — including local farms and food producers, as well as small manufacturing businesses — it is imperative that we mobilize private capital to address the problem. But more capital is only part of the solution. Capital, whatever its source, must be applied with precision and a thorough understanding of the businesses receiving funds to ensure that the amount, type, and timing of the capital are well-matched to the business and its goals. 

This is not the time to search for shiny new investable ideas. More than a thousand community development institutions across the United States already are working to fill  gaps in the capital markets without regard to a borrower's color, gender, or ethnicity.

In this time of anxiety and uncertainty, impact investors — private investors who seek to create social impact — should look to CDFIs as a bridge to low-income communities. Not only do we have a forty-year record of working in those communities, we also provide relationship-based technical assistance — advice that is especially valued as small business owners look to reinvent themselves for a post-pandemic economy. 

Over thirty-six years, our CDFI, the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, has built a strong, resilient community business. In part through a relationship-based, community-organizing approach, we have grown our ability to lend the right capital at the right time to make a difference. In this time of trouble, this is what we bring to the table to help small businesses weather the storm: 

We know how to stabilize a business. Many businesses have teams that possess skills and local knowledge accumulated over years. By providing capital to such businesses when they hit a rough patch, we make it possible for them to keep those skills and knowledge in-house, thereby reducing local economic disruption over the longer term. 

We work collaboratively. CDFIs fill capital gaps created by the business models of mainstream lenders and investors. For instance, our CDFI focuses on providing growth capital, a type of higher-risk financing that allows for the greater uncertainty inherent in the small business economy that is especially well-suited to this uncertain economic environment. What's more, the loans we underwrite are based on cash flow and the strength of the management team, as opposed to collateral. Our strong track record (i.e., minimal defaults) isn't because we're quick to say "no," but rather is the result of our focus on helping the borrower succeed. And the strong relationships our business advisors have built with our borrowers give us confidence that when borrowers see trouble ahead, they will ask for help sooner rather than later, knowing that we'll be patient and work with them to resolve the problem. 

We're creative. Like growth capital, pivot financing allows us the flexibility needed to shape financing to the needs of each particular business. Relying on unrestricted community-sourced capital allows us to structure deals creatively, using all the tools in our financial toolbox, including grants, debt, sub debt, revenue-based financing, and equity. The greater the mission alignment, the more willing we are to stretch, accepting a greater share of the risk so as to keep costs low for the borrower. Our backstops are our knowledge of the business and the trust we have earned — both of which are priceless as we and our borrowers navigate our way through this crisis.

In this moment, impact investors and funders don't need to spend valuable time searching for new ideas. They can invest in the existing CDFI infrastructure, an infrastructure uniquely positioned to stabilize and pivot local businesses for whatever lies ahead. By focusing our relationship-based efforts on businesses led by women and people of color, as well as businesses that are creating better jobs for low-income workers, we are doing our part to ensure that fewer people will be permanently harmed by the fallout from the virus. In doing so, we also are actively working to enlist new allies to this critical work. The challenge is immense; the time to act is now. 

John-HamiltonJohn Hamilton is vice president of economic opportunity at the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.

 

Foundations Step Up Funding for COVID-19 Response Efforts (May 1-15, 2020)

May 17, 2020

CoronavirusAs COVID-19 continues to disrupt life in the United States and around the globe, private foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the immediate needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. Here's a roundup of grants announced over the last two weeks:

ARIZONA

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Phoenix, AZ | $2.9 Million

The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust has announced emergency grants totaling $2.9 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in Maricopa County and across Arizona. The funding includes unrestricted grants totaling $2.51 million to six Maricopa County hospitals and hospital systems responding directly to the spread of the virus; $350,000 to the Arizona Community Foundation's Arizona COVID-19 Community Response Fund; and $50,000 to the Arizona Apparel Foundation in support of its Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center (FABRIC), which is investing in an industrial-level computerized cutting machine and additional sewing machines to produce much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. Since March 30, the trust has awarded COVID-related emergency grants totaling $9.2 million.

CALIFORNIA

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Redwood City, CA | $750,000

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced grants totaling $750,000 in support of five studies of COVID-19 disease progression at the level of the individual cell. To be conducted at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Ragon Institute, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Columbia University, VIB-UGent, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and the Josep Carreras Research Institute, the studies are expected to generate the first single-cell biology datasets from infected donors and provide insights into how the virus infects humans, which cell types are involved, and how the disease progresses. The data from the projects will be made available to the scientific community via open access datasets and portals.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Menlo Park, CA | $10 Million

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has announced a $10 million grant to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in the Bay Area. To be disbursed over the next twelve months, the funding will support SVCF's COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, which supports community-based organizations providing direct assistance to individuals and families impacted by COVID-19, and the Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund, which provides flexible operating support grants to nonprofits working to provide residents of the region with food, shelter, health, and mental health services.

Imaginable Futures, Redwood City, CA | $3 Million

Imaginable Futures, an education venture spun off by Omidyar Network in January, has announced commitments totaling more than $3 million to provide immediate support for students, educators, and childcare providers in the United States, Latin America, and Africa impacted by COVID-19. Grants include $500,000 in support of Common Sense Media's Wide Open Schools, which aggregates high-quality educational content; $500,000 to Home Grown's Home-based Child Care Emergency Fund to help provide child care for essential workers and assistance to childcare providers; and, as part of a $1 million partnership with the Lemann Foundation, $500,000 to an emergency relief fund that will support access to high-quality curricula and technology for students in Brazil. The organization also is partnering with Shining Hope for Communities in Nairobi as well as Shujaaz, a network of social ventures based in Kenya and Tanzania.

W.M. Keck Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $2 Million

The University of California, Los Angeles has announced a $2 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to establish the UCLA W.M. Keck Foundation COVID-19 Research Fund. The fund will support basic science research aimed at advancing understanding of the SARS-CoV2 virus, the mechanisms by which it causes COVID-19, and why some people are more susceptible to the disease, as well as the development of new methods to detect COVID-19 infections and therapies to treat the disease.

Craig Newmark Philanthropies, San Francisco, CA | $1 Million

The Anti-Defamation League has announced a two-year, $1 million grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies in support of its Center on Technology and Society, which produces the Online Hate Index. "We know that the pandemic has had an outsized impact on vulnerable minority groups, including Asian Americans and Jewish Americans who are now being blamed and scapegoated online for creating and spreading the virus," said Newmark. "Now more than ever, it is vital to invest in innovative approaches to detect and stop hate speech from spreading online."

Roddenberry Foundation, North Hollywood, CA | $1 Million

The Gladstone Institutes have announced a $1 million commitment from the Roddenberry Foundation to its President's Coronavirus Research Fund in support of critical experiments by virologists working to understand the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Projects under way at Gladstone include the development of a diagnostic device using novel CRISPR technology, explorations of ways to block the entry of the virus into human cells, investigations of existing FDA-approved drugs as treatments, and the creation of a research hub to support the study of live virus.

Rosenberg Foundation, San Francisco, CA | $550,000

The Rosenberg Foundation has announced a first round of rapid response grants totaling more than $550,000 to organizations working to protect populations hardest hit by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Grants were awarded in the areas of mass incarceration ($260,000), farm worker rights ($150,000), and immigrant rights ($140,000). Grantees include Reform LA Jails, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and the California Immigrant Resilience Fund.

John and Mary Tu Foundation, Fountain Valley, CA | $2.5 Million

The University of California, Irvine has announced a $2.5 million gift from the John and Mary Tu Foundation in support of COVID-related patient care at UCI Health as well as clinical and translational research focused on new ways to test for and treat infections. Half the gift will support physicians, nurses, and other caregivers at UCI Medical Center working to provide cutting-edge care, while the remaining $1.25 million will support research on both COVID as well as longer-term solutions to pandemic diseases.

COLORADO

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Denver, CO | $1 Million

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and the Denver Foundation have launched a COVID-19 Arts & Culture Relief Fund with commitments of $1 million and $50,000, respectively. To be administered by the Denver Foundation, the fund is aimed at helping small and midsize arts and culture organizations in the Denver area survive the public health crisis. Other early contributors to the fund include Denver Arts & Venues ($205,000), the Gates Family Foundation ($100,000), and PNC ($10,000).

Morgridge Family Foundation, Denver, CO | $1 Million

The Morgridge Family Foundation has announced a second commitment of $1 million in emergency relief funding for nonprofits working to address the impacts of the coronavirus on vulnerable populations. A second round of grants will be awarded to fourteen community foundations and United Way partners, which will regrant the funds to a hundred and fifteen local nonprofits.

CONNECTICUT

Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation, Stamford, CT | $1 Million

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation has pledged to match donations up to $1 million in support of efforts at Norwalk Hospital to care for COVID-19 patients and to boost the hospital's emergency preparedness. Donations will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis through September.

FLORIDA

Bailey Family Foundation, Tampa, FL | $350,000

Tampa General Hospital has announced a $350,000 gift from the Bailey Family Foundation in support of its COVID-19 response. The funds will help pay for testing supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other virus-related equipment as the hospital prepares for long-term care needs related to COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Venice, FL; Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Sarasota, FL | $2.7 Million

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation, in partnership with the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, has announced grants totaling $2.7 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in the region. Grants totaling $1.1 million were awarded through the COVID-19 Response Initiative, a joint effort of the two foundations, to nonprofits providing virtual mental health counseling for children and veterans, child care for first responders, and emergency food and financial assistance for displaced hospitality workers, foster families, and others.

ILLINOIS

Multiple Foundations, Chicago, IL | $425,000

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation, in collaboration with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, Richard H. Driehaus, Polk Bros., and Field foundations and the Chicago Community Trust, has announced forty-eight grants totaling more than $425,000 to media organizations working to disseminate information about COVID-19. The collaborative Journalism Fund awarded grants of up to $10,000 to a number of local outlets, including TRiiBE, which engages African-American millennials online and via social media; Cicero Independiente, which is using Facebook to engage Spanish-speaking residents in Berwyn and Cicero; and South Side Drive magazine, which has been working to marshal and direct resources to the city's hard-hit South Shore community.

IOWA

Iowa West Foundation, Council Bluffs, IA | $500,000

The Iowa West Foundation has announced an additional commitment of $500,000 to the Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund, a partnership between IWF and the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, boosting its total contribution to $1 million. Recent grant recipients include Boys and Girl Club of the Midlands ($25,000), the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation ($27,000), Lutheran Family Services ($25,000), and the Performing Arts & Education Association of Southwest Iowa ($5,430).

MARYLAND

Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Baltimore, MD | $7.5 Million

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has announced commitments totaling $6.5 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in the United States and Israel. The funding includes $4.5 million set aside for anticipated COVID response grants in Chicago, Hawaii, New York City, northeastern Pennsylvania, and San Francisco; $1 million to the newly formed COVID-19 Response Funding Collaborative of Greater Baltimore; and $2 million to nonprofits in Israel through a partnership with the Foundations of Bituach Le'umi, Israel's National Insurance Institute. The latest commitments boost to more than $11.5 million the foundation's COVID-19 emergency support for people experiencing poverty.

MINNESOTA

McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis, MN | $190,000

The McKnight Foundation has announced grants totaling $190,000 in support of communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Grants include $100,000 to the Headwaters Foundation for Justice for its Communities First Fund, which supports African Americans, Indigenous peoples, and other people of color impacted by growing social, political, and economic disparities, as well as organizations working to address increased xenophobia toward Asian Americans; $50,000 to the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation's Minnesota Homeless Fund, which supports efforts to increase shelter space and critical resources for people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity; and $40,000 to the Transforming Minnesota's Early Childhood Workforce, a statewide multi-sector coalition focused on increasing compensation, training, and resources for early childhood educators.

MISSISSIPPI

Women's Foundation of Mississippi, Jackson, MS | $55,000

The Women's Foundation of Mississippi has announced rapid response grants totaling $55,000 to nonprofits and programs focused on assisting vulnerable families and women, many of whom are essential workers, who were living at or below the poverty level before the public health emergency and have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Eleven nonprofits received funding to provide PPE, mental health support, and wraparound services for students, including the Cary Christian Center, Hinds Community College, the Magnolia Medical Foundation, and the Mississippi Low-Income Childcare Initiative.

NEW JERSEY

Princeton Area Community Foundation, Lawrenceville, NJ | $50,000

The Princeton Area Community Foundation has announced that the Fund for Women and Girls, a field-of-interest fund at the foundation, has donated $50,000 to PACF's COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund to address urgent needs in Mercer County. To date, a total of $2.1 million has been raised for the fund, which is focused on supporting low-income families, single mothers, and children struggling with food insecurity, uncertain health care, and lost income as a result of the public health crisis.

NEW YORK

Clara Lionel Foundation, Brooklyn, NY | $3.2 Million

A group of funders led by Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey's #startsmall has committed $3.2 million in support of COVID-19 response efforts in Detroit and Flint, Michigan. The grants — some of which were matched by the Stadler Family Foundation, the David Rockefeller Fund, and the Sean Anderson Foundation — will fund comprehensive solutions ranging from food distribution and foster care to bail relief, temporary shelter, and social support services.

Grantmakers for Girls of Color, New York, NY | $1 Million

Grantmakers for Girls of Color has announced a $1 million commitment in support of efforts to address the impacts of the coronavirus on girls and gender-expansive youth of color. The Love Is Healing COVID-19 Response Fund will award grants of up to $25,000 to nonprofits and coalitions led by womxn or girls of color, with a focus on COVID-19-related advocacy and immediate mapping needs; economic and educational response strategies; interventions in support of systems impacting youth or survivors of gender-based violence; and preventive or responsive mental, physical, and emotional health strategies.

Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Brooklyn, NY | $2.8 Million

The Edward W. Hazen Foundation has announced that it is fast-tracking $2.8 million in grants to twenty-four nonprofits responding to the COVID-19 crisis in communities of color. Originally scheduled to be awarded this summer, the grants will support parent- and youth-led organizing efforts around issues such as equity in public school funding, ending the police presence and punitive discipline policies in schools, and securing affordable housing for low-income families. The grants are part of a nearly five-fold increase in funding compared with the foundation's spring 2019 docket.

Willem de Kooning Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Cy Twombly Foundation, New York, NY; Teiger Foundation, Livingston, NJ | $1.25 Million

The Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Teiger, and Cy Twombly foundations have partnered to establish an emergency relief grant program to provide $1.25 million in cash assistance to workers in the visual arts in the tri-state area experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. To be administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), the fund will award one-time unrestricted grants of $2,000 to freelance, contract, or non-salaried archivists, art handlers, artist/photographer's assistants, catalogers, database specialists, digital assets specialists, image scanners/digitizers, and registrars.

Henry Luce Foundation, New York, NY | $3.1 Million

At its April meeting, the board of the Henry Luce Foundation awarded $3.1 million in emergency grants in support of fields and communities the foundation has long supported and approved requests to reallocate more than $1.75 million from existing project budgets for salary or general operating support at its grantee institutions. The twenty-three emergency grants include awards ranging between $60,000 and $250,000 to support staff salaries at small and midsize museums in Santa Fe, Tulsa, Portland (OR), Asheville, and Phoenix; a grant of $250,000 to the American Indian College Fund to enable instruction at tribal colleges to continue remotely during the pandemic; and grants of various sizes to emergency funds established by the Modern Language Association, the American Academy of Religion, and Xavier University in Louisiana. The foundation expects to award more emergency grants in May.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, NY | $1.76 Million

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.76 million to sixteen historically black colleges and universities to help stabilize enrollments for the upcoming academic year. The grants of $110,000 per institution will be used to help students pay for their technology needs, ease financial strain due to tuition and housing costs, and pay for essential travel.

NORTH CAROLINA

Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, Greensboro, NC | $200,000

The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation has awarded $200,000 to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina in support of its COVID-19 relief efforts. The funds will be used to purchase six truckloads of food boxes for families and seniors in the greater Greensboro area. According to Second Harvest, local organizations that work with the food bank across eighteen counties are seeing increases of between 40 percent and 60 percent in the demand for food assistance.

Duke Endowment, Charlotte, North Carolina | $3.5 Million

The Duke Endowment has announced a $3.5 million grant to Feeding the Carolinas, a network of ten food banks serving more than thirty-seven hundred charities in North and South Carolina, in support of efforts to meet increased demand due to COVID-19. Due to declines in volunteers and retail donations as a result of the public health emergency, Feeding the Carolinas expects to spend between $1 million to $2 million a week on food purchases for the next six to eight weeks.

PENNSYLVANIA

Heinz Endowments, Pittsburgh, PA | $2.3 Million

The Heinz Endowments has announced a second round of emergency grants totaling more than $2.3 million to Pittsburgh-area nonprofits working to protect the health of frontline workers and address the basic needs of vulnerable families and individuals. Part of a special $5 million emergency fund approved by the endowments' board in response to urgent community needs resulting from the pandemic, the awards include three grants totaling $610,000 for the purchase of laptops for students who do not have access to computer technology; $250,000 to Allegheny Health Network in support of mobile COVID-19 testing units in underserved communities; and $250,000 to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia, PA | $6.8 Million

The Pew Charitable Trusts has announced grants totaling $6.8 million over three years in support of thirty-eight nonprofits serving vulnerable adults in the region whose needs have been exacerbated by the public health emergency. Grants were focused in three areas: helping adults who are experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and those with significant behavioral health or substance use issues achieve independence and stability in their lives; helping those with limited work skills obtain employment; and using evidence-informed approaches to improve behavioral health outcomes.

Presser Foundation, Philadelphia, PA | $1.3 Million

The Presser Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.3 million to eighty-five music organizations in the greater Philadelphia area, including $521,250 in general operating support grants aimed at helping the organizations weather the COVID-19 emergency. Recipients include the Academy of Vocal Arts, the Chester Children's Chorus, Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts, and Trenton Music Makers. The remaining $795,000 will support capital projects at music-presenting, -performing, and -education organizations.

TEXAS

Episcopal Health Foundation, Houston, TX | $11.6 Million

The Episcopal Health Foundation has announced a $10 million plan to help address the long-term impact of COVID-19, including a grant program, an emergency loan fund, and a research project. The grant program will help current grantees and partners continue their operations during the public health emergency, with a focus on those directly involved in COVID-19 response and serving disproportionately affected populations, while the loan fund will offer two-year zero-interest loans of up to $1 million. The foundation also announced a first round of grants totaling $1.6 million from a previously announced $10 million commitment to address the long-term impacts of the coronavirus. Grants were awarded to twenty-three current grantees, including nonprofit clinics and organizations serving low-income Texans, behavioral and mental health organizations, rural health centers, nonprofits assisting with enrollment in health and other benefit programs, and groups working in the area of early-childhood brain development.

George Foundation, Richmond, TX | $1.3 Million

The George Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.3 million in support of nonprofits serving Fort Bend County residents impacted by COVID-19. The total includes $195,500 to help fifty organizations continue serving their communities while observing social distancing guidelines and more than $1.1 million to twenty nonprofits providing critical services, with a focus on meeting the increase in basic needs, including food assistance and rent and utilities assistance.

Kinder Foundation, Dallas, TX | $1 Million

The Houston Food Bank has announced a $1 million grant from the Kinder Foundation to help feed families impacted by the coronavirus. As a result of job and income losses caused by the virus, the food bank has had to ramp up distribution to between 150 percent and 200 percent of pre-pandemic levels, or between seven hundred and fifty thousand and a million pounds of food a day.

Moody Foundation, Dallas, TX | $1.475 Million

The Moody Foundation has announced a second round of grants totaling $1.475 million in support of nonprofits providing food, shelter, PPE, computers, rent assistance, employment, education, and physical and mental health services across Texas. Grants include $675,000 in support of nine Dallas-area organizations; $500,000 to eighteen nonprofits in Austin, Georgetown, Round Rock, Fredericksburg, San Marcos, and Marfa; and $300,000 in support of the City of Galveston and four Galveston County organizations. In March, the foundation awarded a first round of COVID-related grants totaling $1 million in support of Austin-area nonprofits.

WISCONSIN

Bader Philanthropies, Milwaukee, WI | $1.4 Million

And Bader Philanthropies has awarded grants totaling $1.4 million to nonprofits in southeastern Wisconsin providing on-the-ground services in response to COVID-19, the BizTimes reports. Recipients include crisis resource center IMPACT, which is using its $100,000 to add three employees; 4th Dimension Sobriety; Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin; Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers; and the Parenting Network.

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"Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Continues Rapid Response to COVID-19 Crisis With Additional $2.9 Million in Emergency Grants." Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Press Release 04/29/2020.

"New Single-Cell Technologies Help Scientists Understand COVID-19 Disease Progression." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Press Release 05/08/2020.

"Hewlett Foundation Awards $10 Million to Silicon Valley Community Foundation for Bay Area COVID-19 Relief." William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Press Release 05/07/2020.

"Our First Steps to Deploy More Than $3 Million in Immediate Response." Imaginable Futures Blog Post 05/05/2020.

"ADL Receives $1 Million Grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to Detect and Measure Online Hate Speech." Anti-Defamation League Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Roddenberry Foundation Donates $1 Million to Support Gladstone COVID-19 Research." Gladstone Institutes Press Release 05/08/2020.

"Rosenberg Foundation Announces COVID Related Rapid Response Grants to Fight Mass Incarceration and Protect Immigrant and Farmworker Rights." Rosenberg Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"Tu Foundation Gives $2.5 Million to UCI to Support COVID-19 Patient Care, Research." University of California, Irvine Press Release 05/11/2020.

"The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation Pledges $1 Million to Match Community Donations for Emergency Needs at Norwalk Hospital." Norwalk Hospital Press Release 05/07/2020.

"Emergency Fund for Denver Arts & Culture Organizations Established; Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Donates $1 Million to Cause." Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The Morgridge Family Foundation Provides an Additional $1 Million in Emergency Relief Funding." Morgridge Family Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"The Bailey Family Foundation Donates to Tampa General Hospital Amid COVID-19." Tampa General Hospital Press Release 05/06/2020.

"$2.7 Million in Direct Grants to Nonprofits for COVID-19 Relief." Gulf Coast Community Foundation Press Release 05/06/2020.

"New Journalism Fund Supporting Nearly 50 Local Media Organizations Providing Information About Covid-19 To Chicagoland Communities." Robert R. McCormick Foundation Press Release 05/07/2020.

"IWF Commits Another $500,000 to SWI COVID-19 Fund." Iowa West Foundation Press Release 04/03/2020.

"Total Foundation Emergency Support for Nonprofit Partners Now Exceeds $10.5 Million." Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation 04/30/2020.

"Weinberg Foundation Commits Additional $1 Million to Israeli Nonprofits as Part of COVID-19 Response." Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"More Covid-19 Response Grants and a New Video Highlighting Bright Spots." McKnight Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"WFM Awards $55k in Rapid Response Grants." Women's Foundation of Mississippi 04/30/2020.

"Fund for Women and Girls Donates $50,000 to Princeton Area Community Foundation Relief & Recovery Fund." Princeton Area Community Foundation 04/30/2020.

"CLF Leads Additional COVID-19 Response Efforts in Michigan." Clara Lionel Foundation Press Release 05/07/2020.

"Grantmakers for Girls of Color Announces $1 Million to Address Immediate Impacts of COVID-19 on Girls and Gender Expansive Youth of Color." Grantmakers for Girls of Color Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Edward W. Hazen Foundation Fast Tracks $2.8 Million in Grants to Support Grantees Responding to Covid-19 Pandemic in Communities of Color."

"Tri-State Relief Fund to Support Non-Salaried Workers in the Visual Arts." New York Foundation for the Arts Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Luce Foundation Makes $3M in Emergency Grants to Support Communities and Organizations Affected by COVID-19."Henry Luce Foundation Press Release 05/12/2020.

"$1.76 Million in Emergency Grants Distributed to 16 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic." Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"The Duke Endowment Awards $3.5 Million to Feeding the Carolinas." Duke Endowment Press Release 05/12/2020.

"Second Harvest Food Bank Receives $200,000 Donation From the Bryan Foundation." Winston-Salem Journal 04/30/2020.

"Heinz Endowments Announces Further $2.3 Million in Emergency Funding to Combat COVID-19 Crisis." Heinz Endowments Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Pew Announces $6.8M in Grants Supporting Philadelphia Region's Vulnerable Adults." Pew Charitable Trusts Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The Presser Foundation Announces Over $1.3 Million in a Special Round of General Operating and Capital Support Grants to Music Organizations." Presser Foundation Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Episcopal Health Foundation Targets Long-Term Focus in $10 Million COVID-19 Response Plan." Episcopal Health Foundation Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Episcopal Health Foundation Announces $1.6 Million in Grants During First Round of Funding for COVID-19 Response in Texas." Episcopal Health Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"Messages on COVID-19." George Foundation Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Kinder Foundation Gifts $1 Million to Houston Food Bank to Feed Houstonians Impacted by COVID-19." Houston Food Bank Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Moody Foundation Commits Additional $300K to Galveston County COVID-19 Relief." Moody Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Moody Foundation Commits Additional $500K to Dallas-Area COVID-19 Relief." Moody Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Moody Foundation Commits Additional $675K to Dallas-Area COVID-19 Relief." Moody Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Bader Philanthropies Distributes $1.4 Million in Emergency Funding for Nonprofits." BizTimes 04/28/2020.

The Reinvention of the Nonprofit

May 14, 2020

Communications_treeLike many of you, I've learned new ways of doing things over the last month and half. For instance, I have:

  • participated in a virtual board meeting with a nonprofit that, pre-pandemic, would not allow board members to call in to board meetings — a significant obstacle to participation for me and many of my fellow board members;
  • attended a virtual event for a nonprofit I support;
  • toured a museum gallery (virtually, of course); and
  • designed a new movement strategy with a tech team for an organization seeking to move in-person engagements to a virtual model. 

Some of these innovations had been on the back burner for some time at the organizations in question. But they hadn't been operationalized because nothing at the organization or in its operating environment was forcing a change in the organizational mindset. Even when pitched by bright, forward-thinking staff, innovative ideas were often shelved in favor of more pressing  programmatic needs and strategies. 

Then COVID-19 happened, and, like that, everything changed. Ideas that sounded good but didn't seem necessary a year or two ago were suddenly thrust to the forefront. Almost overnight, the attitude of nonprofits shifted from "Let's not rock the boat" to "What can we do to keep ourselves afloat and/or make a difference, and how fast can we do it?"  

While there is never a bright side to a pandemic, it's true what many pundit-types have said: crises tend to accelerate trends that were already in place, and things that seem new and innovative today are likely to be widely embraced and taken for granted before you know it. 

That said, let me add a note of caution: nonprofits' embrace of innovation and technology should not merely be focused on substitution — Zoom events for in-person events, for instance — but should aim instead to develop entirely new experiences. They should expand the engagement we already have with our constituents and supporters, giving them more ways to be a part of our work and to keep that work relevant and impactful for even more people. 

I was reminded of that recently by three conversations I had with funders about a virtual conference I created ten years ago. MCON, the Millennial Impact Conference, was a day-long virtual event sponsored by the Case Foundation to bring together individuals in the nonprofit sector who were starting to focus their engagement efforts on the huge, rising millennial cohort. The convening was the signature event of a larger initiative, the Millennial Impact Project, a decade-long research effort designed to help nonprofits, causes, and companies engage what was then America's largest and youngest adult generation.

People signed on to that first event in 2010 not really knowing what to expect — and neither did we. As it turned out, some twenty-five hundred people attended (virtually), an astonishing number as far as we were concerned, having no benchmarks against which to measure. And when it was over, we heard from dozens, if not hundreds, of attendees who, while they might have had a hard time articulating why, simply loved it. "I don't know…you just had to experience it," was a common refrain. In the years that followed, attendance at MCON continued to build, peaking at twenty thousand for the 2018 event, at which point we sunsetted the initiative and the event.

What the three funders I spoke to wanted to know was how we managed to create a virtual conference before people really knew what a virtual conference was. And my answer was simple: when we created MCON, we didn't try to replicate something that already existed. We came up with a model for what we hoped to achieve, and then refined it. It was never intended to replace an in-person gathering; instead, we created a standalone experience through which guest speakers from across the country and many different industries and disciplines could share their research and knowledge and, crucially, interact with attendees in new and different ways. 

Virtual events shouldn't be about forcing grantees, constituents, or supporters to make a choice between engaging virtually or in-person. They should be about creating something new. In my experience, that means they should be shorter and move more quickly, be peppered with stimulating visuals, and feature plenty of opportunities to engage with both presenters and other attendees in short bursts. Don't expect see a lot of backroom networking, as you would at an offline event. And don't worry, that's okay! Use the opportunity to ask the most creative members on your staff to create something special that serves not as a replacement for the event that would've been but as a unique complement to your usual communications/fundraising/marketing efforts. 

Of course, every cause and nonprofit will have to decide for itself how to do that. That  said, here are some things for you to keep in mind as you look to innovate and start to plan to bring back your in-person events/programs:

  • A virtual event is just a new way to move constituents and supporters from point A to point B.
  • Your event should focus on new and different opportunities for constituents and supporters to engage with your organization or cause.
  • Adopt a digital perspective focused on delivering experiences and helping attendees learn things, in real time, that wouldn't be possible in an offline setting.
  • Think "small," and use the tools at your disposal to let your virtual attendees drive the bus. 
  • Create small breakout groups for each main content block to make it easier for attendees to compare notes, share ideas, and meet new people.

I urge causes and nonprofits to refrain from returning to business as usual after this crisis is over (and who knows when that might be). What you are learning and doing today to reach constituents and supporters absolutely must inform your future communications/fundraising/marketing efforts. As a wise person once said, never let a crisis go to waste. Good luck and stay safe!

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

COVID-19 Is Prompting a Global Response From Impact Investors

May 13, 2020

Impact investing_610x308For most of us, the coronavirus pandemic is the first truly global crisis of our lifetimes. But while signs of progress against the virus have emerged from parts of Asia and Europe, infections and virus-related deaths continue to climb in the United States, and it seems as if large parts of the Global South are still in the early stages of their infection curves.

Our extensive webs of human connection are the proximate cause of the virus's rapid spread around the globe, highlighting, like nothing in recent memory, our global interconnectedness.

Ironically, those same links are also critical to the solution to the problem.

Across the impact investing community, COVID-19 is prompting a global response that those of us in the impact investing community have been proud to witness. Impact investors are doing what they do best: leveraging the power of finance to address the world's biggest challenges. It is already becoming clear that the ripple effects of the pandemic intersect with many of the goals impact investors have focused on for years: broadening access to affordable health care and housing, creating quality jobs, and building more sustainable agriculture and energy systems.

Among the hundreds of member organizations in the Global Impact Investing Network, tangible actions aimed at changing the course of the pandemic are unfolding. At the GIIN, we see those actions falling into three primary phases: a response phase, with a focus on immediate health and financial needs; a recovery phase, with a focus on rebuilding and tackling the social and economic impacts of the pandemic; and a resilience phase, with a focus on long-term systems change.

In many cases, impact investors are adjusting financing terms for existing investees as a first and immediate response. By making debt repayment terms more forgiving, impact investors are ensuring that social and environmental enterprises can continue to provide critical services — even as many struggle to overcome virus-related cash crunches.

Many impact investors also are offering bridge loans to their investees. Such loans are meant to help businesses cover expenses like payroll, rents, and other operational costs until emergency government aid arrives or consumer demand revives. Others in the GIIN network are expanding microfinance eligibility criteria and loan size, while still others are actively seeking out new investments that can help the world address the global public health emergency — proving, if nothing else, that not all liquidity has dried up.

Development banks across nearly all continents are issuing new bonds at a rapid clip. The proceeds will finance projects with broad COVID-related impacts. These projects are focused on things like improving the efficiency of healthcare systems, supporting the unemployed, and reducing friction in disrupted supply chains.

While we expect the near-term response by impact investors to the pandemic to grow in volume, actions by development finance institutions indicate that many in the impact investing community are thinking a step ahead to the medium-term investments needed to address a host of issues, including global under- and unemployment and inadequate health care, during the post-pandemic recovery phase.

As these efforts take shape, a central theme is becoming clear: in order to be truly effective, the global post-pandemic recovery will require the full spectrum of capital — from philanthropic to commercial. As things stand, we are seeing signs that blended-finance structures — long noted for their potential to bring different types of investors together to address urgent challenges — could rise to a new level of prominence. Such structures use philanthropic grants or concessionary capital to reduce investors' risk and catalyze the entry of larger pools of market-rate-seeking capital into investments with the potential to drive deep impact.

Just as we need to rely on one another more than ever during this crisis, we also need investors and grantmakers to work together as never before. But as we work together to respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus, we must not lose sight of our longer-term goals. The crisis is laying bare deep inequities in our healthcare and financial systems and causing the most harm to those who were already the most vulnerable: the poor, the ill and elderly, minority communities, women and girls. As we strive to become more resilient in the years after the crisis has passed, we must do everything in our power to prevent those inequities from taking hold again.

Our collective efforts over the coming months are likely to shape the way we approach the biggest global challenges we face for decades to come — challenges such as the climate emergency, which, like COVID-19, ignore international borders.

Headshot_giselle_leungAs you begin, in the coming months, to chart your "new normal," I urge you to remain mindful of that broader perspective and to hold tight to a shared vision of a more just, equitable, and resilient future — and to invest in it.

Giselle Leung is managing director of the Global Impact Investing Network.

Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, the SDGs Are More Relevant Than Ever

May 10, 2020

SdgThe world is dealing with a crisis of monumental proportions. The novel coronavirus is wreaking havoc across the globe, destroying lives and ruining livelihoods. The primary cost of the pandemic as calculated in the loss of human life is distressing, but the knock-on effects in terms of the global economy, people's livelihoods, and sustainable development prospects are even more alarming. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund estimates that the global economy has already fallen into recession, and while the full economic impact of the crisis is difficult to predict, the ultimate cost is likely to be extraordinary and unprecedented.

That is why we must all support the United Nations' call to scale up the immediate health response to the virus, with a particular focus on women, youth, low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector, and vulnerable groups who were already at risk. Working together we can save lives, restore livelihoods, and get the global economy back on track.

At the same time, the pandemic has utterly exposed fundamental weaknesses in our global system of governance and demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt how poverty, inadequate health systems, underresourced educational systems, and sub-optimal global cooperation can exacerbate a crisis like COVID-19. These are exactly the kinds of challenges the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are meant to address.

The rapid spread of the virus has come at a time when the SDGs were beginning to get traction and a significant number of countries were making progress in implementing them. But with the world today consumed by the need to contain the virus and mitigate its many adverse and debilitating impacts, countries are resetting their priorities and reallocating resources to deal with the challenge.

Emerging evidence of the broader impact of the coronavirus crisis on efforts to achieve the SDGs should be troubling for all. UNESCO estimates that some 1.25 billion students globally have been affected by the pandemic, posing a serious challenge to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 4, while the International Labour Organization (ILO) projects that some 25 million people could lose their jobs over the coming months, dealing a serious blow to progress on Sustainable Development Goal 8 — and that is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Crucially, in many parts of the world, the pandemic also is creating roadblocks to progress on clean water and sanitation targets (Goal 6), addressing pervasive inequality (Goal 10), and, perhaps most importantly, addressing the twin crises of global poverty (Goal 1) and hunger/food insecurity (Goal 2). Indeed, the World Bank estimates that pandemic will push an additional 11 million people into poverty.

In other words, what we cannot afford to do in this critical moment is to de-link the global response to the pandemic from action on the SDGs. Indeed, by continuing to make progress on the SDGs, we will be putting ourselves on a firmer path to dealing with global health risks and the emergence of new infectious diseases in the future. Achieving SDGs Goal 3, for instance, will mean that we succeeded in strengthening the capacity of countries to conduct early warning surveillance, reduce the risk of contagious pathogens from spreading, and manage the situation promptly and effectively should they be faced with such a situation.

As the global community strives to deal with the challenges posed by the pandemic, we must seek to turn the crisis into an opportunity and ramp up our actions to support and ultimately achieve the goals by 2030. The world has the knowledge and expertise to muster the full complement of resources needed to to do that. Buoyed by a spirit of solidarity, governments, businesses, multilateral organizations, and civil society have been able to raise and direct trillions of dollars to defeat the virus. We can do the same to defeat global poverty, reduce inequality, provide a quality education to all, protect the climate, and build a more just and sustainable global economy. All that is missing is the political will.

As governments, business, and civil society around the world respond to the impacts of the pandemic, it is incumbent on all of us to stay focused on the underlying factors that have exacerbated those impacts. We cannot relent in our efforts, even amid this painful pandemic, to address people's basic needs, protect the beauty and diversity of our planet, and build a fairer and more just world. COVID-19 reminds us that we face common, global challenges that can only be solved through united, global action. In a crisis like this, we are only as strong as our weakest link.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Erna Solberg are, respectively, president of the Republic of Ghana and prime minister of Norway and co-chairs of the UN Secretary-General's Eminent Group of Advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Overcoming Founder’s Syndrome on the Road to Success

May 08, 2020

BatonPicture this: An organization's founder has been in place for decades. They are well-respected for their years of hard work and are credited with driving the organization’s long-term success. They've been in the position for so long, in fact, that people outside the organization can't imagine it existing without them. So when they announce their imminent retirement, the board and staff are paralyzed by the notion of bringing in someone new.

The mere thought of a major leadership transition can be frightening, and unless a successor is obvious, beginning the process of finding a replacement for a long-tenured executive can feel overwhelming. Indeed, in many cases, the initial reaction is to look for the same type of leader as the person who is leaving.

As millions of boomers near retirement age, this scenario is playing out in organizations nationwide. According to TSNE MissionWorks, 68 percent of executive directors and 66 percent of board chairs are over the age 50 and, in many cases, are beginning to think about retirement. In other words, thousands, if not tens of thousands, of nonprofits are facing the prospect of losing their long-serving founders, CEOs, presidents, and executive directors.

When an organization is faced with replacing a long-time leader who has been in place for so long that board and staff cannot remember his or her predecessor, identifying a new leader can seem like a hopeless task. That task is even more complicated when the founding ED or long-serving executive is having a difficult time imagining the organization carrying on successfully without her. Often, this confluence of circumstances results in the phenomenon known as "founder's syndrome," a situation in which an organization’s funding, capacity, and overall well-being seem to be largely dependent on her efforts, causing stakeholders to be uneasy about the prospect of her leaving or, in the worst-case situation, a founder resistant to turning over the reins to a successor. In many such cases, people cannot imagine how the organization will find its next leader because their image of the current leader is fixed.

For these and other reasons, a successful search for a new leader hinges on board members first recognizing that founder's syndrome is a factor in the planned transition. Indeed, if the transition to a new leader is planned carefully and strategically, it's possible to reframe founder's syndrome as an opportunity for the board to honor the founding leader's legacy while simultaneously positioning the next leader for success.

To ensure that the transition to a new leader is successful, the organization’s board and leadership team should pay attention to the following:

Be clear about your expectations. What are your goals and priorities for the next leader? Do you expect her to boost fundraising, help the organization close a deficit, create a better operational model, increase the diversity of staff, strengthen the endowment? What parts of your organization's identity do you want to retain and which parts need to evolve? What are your leadership needs and what should leadership for the organization over the next five to ten years look like?

Avoid 'Founder 2.0'. When an organization's mission is so tied to a founder’s vision, it can be difficult to imagine someone different in that role. In many cases, board and executive team members who have worked closely with the founder often want to replace him or her with exactly same type of leader. The fact is, however, that organizations need different kinds of leaders at different moments in their evolution. The leadership qualities that may have been critical at the earlier stages of an organization's development may not be as necessary or even appropriate a decade or more down the road. Just as children outgrow their favorite clothes and toys and seek new and different stimuli as they mature, organizations also evolve in terms of what they need from a leader. A "start-up" situation encourages people to wear multiple hats and be entrepreneurial. At a later point in an organization’s evolution, more formal systems and roles often are required in order to make sure everyone is on the same page and pulling in the same direction. Organizations naturally tend to move from a "crawling and toddling" stage, to an "awkward adolescence," to a more mature stage of growth and development. Organizations therefore ought to assess the stage they’re currently in, their future goals and where they hope to be in five or ten years, and the kind of leader that is most likely to get them there. Remember: Change is your friend and can be a valuable driver in ensuring that an organization continues to be successful.

Fix up the house. Longtime homeowners are familiar with the joys of deferred maintenance. If you've owned a house for a while, you're probably surrounded by things that are broken or not working as well as they used to, but you've put up with them because you're too busy — or it’s too expensive — to fix them. But small inconveniences and annoyances add up over time, and at a certain point you realize that things have slipped a bit too much and it's time to address those longstanding issues. The same holds true for a long-time leader. When a leader has been in place for a long time, he has likely settled into certain routines and grown comfortable with systems and processes that generally work well but could use some updating. If the founder is a naturally creative type, for instance, he may have overlooked some of the finer details of revenue recognition and financial planning. Or he might be wonderful at engaging external stakeholders but less adept at hiring and managing a senior management team. In such cases, a transition to a new leader should be viewed as an opportunity to repair what may be broken.

Embrace a fresh vision. Even when the board and staff are pleased with the job the founder-leader has done, there almost always are things that can be built off his or her legacy. It's important to recognize that longtime leaders and the organizations they lead can become less adaptable to change — and more susceptible to inertia — over time, which in turn can prevent them from evolving and realizing their full potential. Transitioning to someone who brings fresh ideas, energy, and perspective to the work can help an organization and the people who make it go see themselves in a new way.

Talk to the team. In any leadership transition, it's important to have honest conversations with the board, senior management, and staff at all levels about what's working and what needs to be fixed. With a new leader at the helm, what might the organization look like in five years? And what can the board, senior management, and staff do to ensure that the new leader, and the organization, succeeds?

Encourage a graceful exit. As a general rule, founders shouldn't have an active role in the organization (or on its board) immediately after they've stepped down. More often than not, the continued involvement of a founder creates awkwardness and makes it difficult for a successor to operate. In addition, most qualified candidates for the job will not to want hear that, should they get the job, they'll be managing a founder-leader -- a prospect that can deter even the most determined applicant. Last but not least, it can be confusing and unsettling for staff to have a founder hanging around as a new leader is trying to establish herself. Whom should they go to turn to for direction and advice — the person who has led the organization for years or the new person? At best, it can create a divided sense of loyalty among staff, while at worst…

Expect things to get emotional. Understand that the board and staff may have harbored tremendous affection for the person who is leaving and could have a visceral reaction to his or her departure. It's human nature to want stability and resist change, and any transition involving a beloved and long-serving leader can be difficult to process emotionally. In addition, many employees, fearing the unknown, will feel anxious that the new leader will want to build a new team and/or make significant changes.

Use an outside consultant. Unless an organization already has a successor in mind, the board and staff may not know how to manage a transition from a founder or long-serving leader to someone new — or even where to begin the search process for a successor. An outside recruiter from an executive search firm can be an invaluable addition to the search team and bring a fresh (and objective) perspective to the table. As part of her job, the consultant will conduct due diligence, talking to the board, key staff members, and other stakeholders and constituents to determine what type of leadership is needed and appropriate in terms of the organization's next chapter. In some instances, having an interim leader in place while a search is under way can give the search team time and distance to orient itself to the needs and requirements of the future.

Honor the founder's legacy. It's important that the organization, led by the board, acknowledges and celebrates the founder's legacy and accomplishments in a meaningful, memorable way. Allowing time and space for her to take a final "victory lap," a series of events over the course of several months or even up to a year, will put a well-deserved spotlight on the departing leader and help her ease into a new role as an eminence grise rather than the top executive.

When a founder steps down, you shouldn’t worry about how his or her shoes will be filled. Instead, focus your efforts on identifying and recruiting a talented new leader to replace the departing founder and then do everything you can to help him or her lead the organization forward to an even brighter and more successful future.

Headshot_Naree Viner_KoyaNaree W.S. Viner, managing director at Koya Leadership Partners, has deep experience in executive recruiting and has partnered closely with board members at public and private organizations to identify, develop, and recruit executive talent, including chief executives and senior team members.

Stop Excluding People of Color in Environmental Policies

May 06, 2020

Environmental_scale_310998The fight to save our planet should be about ensuring a long and sustainable future — for everyone.

However, as the coronavirus has spread across America, it has laid bare the harsh inequities in American society.

The inequities have surfaced in obvious ways, including early data released by states showing that the virus is killing African Americans at disproportionately high rates, a disturbing trend that illustrates the substandard availability of health care in black America.

The inequities have also surfaced in subtle ways, including policy decisions that fail to reflect the needs and day-to-day realities of low-income communities and communities of color. The irony is that many of these policies are well-meaning. But in some cases, they also have had troubling unintended consequences.

Consider the area of environmental policy. Protecting the environment should be about protecting people, regardless of the color of their skin, ethnicity or race, where they live, or how much money they make. 

Yet there are many in the mainstream environmental movement who continuously overlook the needs and realities faced by some of our most underserved and vulnerable communities. That includes the push by the mainstream environmental advocacy community to enforce plastic bags bans in favor of reusables, despite the fact that cardboard paper and other reusables pose a clear public health risk — especially for workers on the front lines of the pandemic response.

Why, for example, is it smart public policy to insist that grocery workers be exposed to reusable bags when research shows that reusable bags can be repositories of the COVID-19 virus? The majority of these essential workers are low-income people of color who are disproportionately bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, dying from the deadly disease at twice the rate of white people.

Additionally, in New York, it is well-documented that a recently enacted statewide plastic bag ban has disproportionately hurt black and Latino-owned businesses and shoppers. Although there is an exemption for recipients of benefits like WIC and food stamps from paying the five-cent tax on paper bags, working-class people of color and low-income New Yorkers still must pay.

Some stores have been charging for both plastic and paper, and, in some cases, more than five cents a bag. Five cents might not seem like much. But five cents (or more) per bag adds up, especially when one is living paycheck-to-paycheck, or, as is more likely at this moment, not working at all due to the coronavirus.

Some environmentalists have argued that opponents of the bag ban are trying to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis by recommending a suspension of all bag regulations. Again, it would appear that many mainstream environmentalists only use research data to support policies that reflect their privileged vantage point without respect to the impact of those policies on the underprivileged.

I coined the term "environmental racism" in 1982 while involved in protests in Warren County, North Carolina, against the digging of a PCB landfill in the heart of a poor black agricultural community. At the time, there were some who thought that environmental issues should not be considered civil rights or racial justice issues. That was then, but the same attitudes persist and are part of our current public discourse, a kind of arrogance on the part of the privileged who think they know what is best for the disadvantaged and underprivileged.

Today, as the environmental justice movement has grown into a global campaign for change led by grassroots activists and leaders from people of color communities globally, we all know more about the intersection between the issues of racial and environmental justice.

I recall vividly back in the late 1980s after I co-authored and published a landmark study for the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, Toxic Waste and Race in the United States, how unnerved the mainstream environmental movement was by the fact that people of color would do empirical research and define our own reality with respect to exposure to environmental hazards. Of course, our study demonstrated that there was an unequivocal link between race and the siting of toxic-waste facilities in America.

Unable to look beyond the blinders of a privileged ideology, some who call themselves environmentalists often fail to truly take into account the day-to-day concerns of millions of low-income Americans and people of color living in urban neighborhoods that also house hazardous sanitation sites, incinerators, rail yards, power plants, and other environmental hazards.

Indeed, some mainstream environmental groups insist on pushing for policies that make life harder for people of color and poor communities, arguing that such hardship — if they acknowledge it at all — is a price we must pay in order to achieve broader goals that those of privilege have envisioned and formulated as the standard for all to pursue.

As the virus continues to spread, we need to let go of high-minded ideological arguments and do everything possible to protect workers on the front lines of our efforts to contain it — including grocery clerks and deliverymen. Some states have temporarily lifted their bag bans or eradicated them altogether. A number of grocery stores are re-introducing plastic bags and telling customers not to use reusable bags.

As the crisis has unfolded, New York has twice extended non-enforcement of its plastic bag ban in the face of a lawsuit that challenges its constitutionality. It is not enough. The state should give essential workers and shoppers alike a sense of protection during the pandemic and bag the plastic ban altogether.

More often than not, these kinds of life-altering decisions are being made without the consultation or input from communities of color. Close to forty years after the publication of our Toxic Waste study, communities of color are still mostly excluded from these conversations, overlooked by many in the mainstream environmental movement as well as by local and state governments.

The fact remains: there is a divide between the mainstream environmentalism movement and the environmental justice community. And until both are able to come together and acknowledge the pervasive environmental harms that communities of color endure on a daily basis, the rift will only deepen. Ignoring or excluding the concerns of people of color from the environmental movement will not help solve the nation's or the world's environmental challenges.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis is president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

Billions of Dollars Need to Be Mobilized to Combat COVID-19

May 05, 2020

Due-diligenceAs self-isolation and self-quarantine, lockdowns, and social distancing are adopted to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, poor and less affluent communities, in both the Global South and North, will be especially vulnerable. The world, perhaps more than ever, needs to come together to help those affected.

Governments, banks, foundations, and humanitarian and charitable organizations are already mobilizing their resources and directing them to the front lines of the fight. That said, more needs to be done to support those most likely to be impacted by the social and economic impacts of the virus. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, and we need to move quickly to ensure that help is provided as humanely and transparently as possible. Indeed, the way in which we handle this crisis is likely to become the norm in crisis management for decades to come.

Challenges in mobilizing financial resources

The COVID-19 outbreak has already exacted a toll on Africa’s economy, with low and middle-income countries experiencing negative impacts in several sectors, including tourism, agriculture, and health.

The World Bank's Africa’s Pulse report warns that the first recession in sub-Saharan Africa in twenty-five years is about to descend on the region, noting that "growth in sub-Saharan Africa has been significantly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and is forecast to fall sharply from 2.4 percent in 2019 to -2.1 to -5.1 percent in 2020."

In other words, we need to mobilize financial resources as quickly as possible to support the countries that need help the most.

As was the case pre-COVID, however, funders are likely to want answers to a key question before they commit to a grant: "How do we know the funds we disburse will be used for the purpose stated?"

It's a valid question. When the post-pandemic dust finally settles, no funder will want to be the subject of a journalistic expose of the misuse or misappropriation of funds.

Transparency and speed are paramount

Generally, funders engage in due diligence to reassure themselves they are investing in organizations that are governed effectively, transparently, and accountably.

Different funders use different due diligence frameworks to assess the financial stability of the organizations they would like to fund. Some frameworks are simple and only take a few weeks to work through, while others are more complicated and involve considerable work.

What's a funder to do, however, when the problem is urgent and setting aside months to complete and circulate paperwork is an unaffordable luxury? One solution is obvious: we need to standardize our due-diligence processes to promote efficiency in grant funding. The Global Grant Community, a financial governance platform of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) that provides funders and grantees with a one-stop self-assessment/due diligence tool, attempts to do that. Funders who opt to use the online platform are able to:

  • Invite organizations they are interested in funding to assess their financial management capacity against the requirements of the international standard for Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP) and a Non-GFGP Assurance Framework.
  • Review due diligence assessments completed by organizations "ready to be funded" and provide funding to those that meet their criteria in support of the speedy implementation of COVID-related activities.
  • Search a directory to identify and connect with organizations that have demonstrated robust internal procedures, policies, and processes, thereby reducing the risk of mismanagement and corruption.

Yes, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic require the global community to act fast, but not to act blindly or irresponsibly. We need to ensure that our limited but much-needed funds go to organizations that can manage them effectively and put them to use quickly to help save lives and livelihoods. Time is of the essence.

Headshot_michael_kilpatrickMichael Kilpatrick is senior advisor to the Global Grant Community at the African Academy of Sciences.

Corporations Ramp Up Support for COVID-19 Response Efforts (April 16-30, 2020)

May 03, 2020

COVID-19As COVID-19 spreads globally and in the United States, corporations and their foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. The "quick-hit" roundup below captures some of the corporate activity in response to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. (In many cases, larger gifts have been covered separately as part of PND's daily news feed.) Items are sorted in alpha order by company name.

For more coverage, check out PND's COVID-19 page and Candid's COVID-19 popup page.

Activision Blizzard, Kingston Technology, and donors including Richard Scudamore and Julia and George Argyros have donated more than $5 million to the Hoag Hospital Foundation in Newport Beach, California, in support of COVID-related clinical trials, additional protective equipment, and emerging areas of need.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has announced an initial donation of high-performance computing (HPC) systems valued at $15 million to research institutions working to accelerate medical research on COVID-19 and other diseases. The company also announced donations totaling more than $1 million to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Austin Community Foundation, and local organizations in Canada, India, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Aflac has announced donations totaling $5 million to organizations assisting healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Contributions include $2 million to the Global Center for Medical Innovation, which is using 3D printing to help address shortages of medical equipment such as ventilators and protective masks, and $3 million to Direct Relief, which is providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential medical supplies to health workers in all fifty states.

Albertsons in Boise, Idaho, has announced a $50 million commitment in support of hunger relief efforts in the District of Columbia and thirty-four states where it operates supermarkets. Through its Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief campaign, the company will work with local nonprofits to help keep food banks stocked and able to respond to increased demand, support school-based emergency meal distribution programs, and bolster meal and food distribution programs for seniors.

As part of its $4 million commitment in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in California, Anthem Blue Cross has announced grants totaling $200,000 to United Way and Feeding America. The funds will support food banks, shelters, and other resource centers that are helping individuals and families with basic needs

Direct Relief has announced a donation of three million surgical masks from AstraZeneca to U.S. health workers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Direct Relief will distribute most of the level 1 surgical masks to health facilities in areas with the most pressing need, with a portion to be directed to emergency management agencies in states where AstraZeneca has a significant presence.

The Blue Shield of California Foundation has announced grants totaling $6.8 million in support of efforts to address economic hardships caused by the spread of the virus, a spike in domestic violence, and the need for accurate, accessible virus-related information in multiple languages. Recipients include the Asian Pacific Fund ($100,000), the California Community Foundation ($500,000), Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees ($1 million), and the Women's Foundation of California ($1.45 million).

Cargill is offering its headquarters' cafeteria so that Minnesota Central Kitchen can expand its operations. The additional kitchen space will allow the nonprofit to provide employment to laid-off workers and four thousand meals a week to Minnesotans in need. The Cargill Foundation also has donated $1 million to add a distribution site in North Minneapolis with Appetite for Change and support the production of a hundred and twenty thousand meals across MCK sites.

Cisco is supporting #FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation aimed at providing essential protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, mental health support, and other resources to frontline healthcare workers, Thrive Global reports. To that end, Cisco is opening a childcare center on its San Jose headquarters campus to the children of first responders and is funding three additional centers in Cary, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; and Birmingham, Alabama.

To support underserved individuals impacted by the public health emergency in New York State, the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation has announced $2 million in unrestricted grants to community-based organizations providing healthcare services to persons of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay, as well as food banks and other nonprofits that provide critical services to home-bound seniors.

Dow has announced grants totaling $500,000 from the Dow Company Foundation in support of community foundations and economic development corporations in Midland, Bay, Isabella, and Saginaw counties in Michigan. The funds will support the rapid deployment of resources to address critical needs arising from the public health emergency, including support for frontline workers, small businesses, and nonprofits providing food and care for children.

The Duke Energy Foundation has announced grants totaling more than $340,000 to South Carolina K-12 education programs focused on summer reading loss, STEM instruction, and experiential learning programs that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Recipients include Children's Museum of the Upstate ($20,000), Girl Scouts of South Carolina ($20,000), South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics ($18,000), and United Way of Pickens County ($25,000). The foundation also awarded a total of $80,000 in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in the greater Cincinnati area — grants of $5,000 each to six hospitals and $25,000 each to the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky.

St. Louis-based Edward Jones has announced commitments totaling $2.7 million in support of local, regional, and national efforts to address immediate needs in communities impacted by the coronavirus. Grant recipients include the American Red Cross, the St. Louis COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, and five local hospital systems.

Madison County Schools in Huntsville, Alabama, has announced a donation of $939,000 from Facebook to help provide every student in the district with an Internet-enabled device and Internet connectivity. The gift includes funding to install mobile WiFi on school buses and extend the range of WiFi access points at schools so students can connect to remote learning tools from more locations. Facebook opened a data center in Huntsville in 2018.

The Figgers Foundation, the charitable arm of African American-owned telecommunications firm Figgers Communications, is donating approximately seven hundred thousand units of personal protection equipment (PPE) — surgical masks, N95 masks, face shields, and hazmat protective coveralls — to hospitals and healthcare workers in coronavirus hotspots, including California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.

Americares, with support from the GE Foundation, which helped source masks from its supplier in China, has announced it will be distributing more than 1.4 million protective masks to health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response in eleven states and Puerto Rico. The Medtronic Foundation and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation also provided support for the purchase and distribution of the personal protective equipment.

Heinz has announced a $1 million commitment to help cover rent and operating costs for independently owned diners impacted by closures due to COVID-19. The company will award grants of $2,000 to five hundred eligible diners nominated by the public through May 31 at https://www.heinzfordiners.com.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has announced pledges totaling $1 million to its Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund from the Kimberly-Clark Foundation and former Kimberly-Clark executive chair Tom Falk and his wife, Karen. The contributions of $500,000 each from the foundation and the Falks, co-chairs of the United Way's 2019-20 campaign, boosts to $6.3 million the total raised for the fund, which has awarded more than $2 million to date to nearly a hundred and fifty community-based organizations.

In partnership with Project N95, the KIND Foundation has announced a $1 million commitment to launch the Frontline Impact Project, a platform where healthcare organizations and other frontline responders can request help to meet their greatest needs. While Project N95 has focused on performing supply chain diligence and securing PPE for health workers, the new partnership will enable thousands of healthcare facilities in the Project N95 network to request donations in the areas of nourishment, lodging, and transportation.

The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation has announced the creation of a $10 million Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund to help families disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Since March, the foundation has pledged more than $6 million to Feeding America, No Kid Hungry, Meals on Wheels America, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation's COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, Sunshine Division's Emergency Food Box Program, Benefits Data Trust, and other nonprofits.

Liberty Mutual Insurance has announced an additional commitment of $10 million to frontline organizations in Boston treating COVID-19 patients and/or providing food and shelter to vulnerable individuals and populations, including low-income and homeless families. Initial grants of $1 million each were awarded to Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Boston Medical Center, and Pine Street Inn, while grants of $500,000 were awarded to Friends of Boston's Homeless, St. Francis House, and the Greater Boston Food Bank. In March, Liberty Mutual announced grants totaling $5 million in support of four hundred and fifty nonprofit partners and the Boston Resiliency Fund.

The MetLife Foundation has announced grants totaling $1 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in New York City as part of a $25 million commitment in support of global efforts in response to the pandemic. Grants in this round were awarded to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation ($200,000), the Children's Health Fund ($150,000), Hot Bread Kitchen ($150,000), and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation ($500,000).

The Patient Safety Movement Foundation has announced a $5 million grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation, and Competition in Healthcare to expand its efforts to drive awareness and adoption of patient safety processes during the public health emergency.

The PGA of America has announced the launch of a Golf Emergency Relief Fund to provide short-term financial assistance to workers in the golf industry who are facing significant financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. The association has pledged $5 million and a matching fund for donations up to $2.5 million.

PPG and the PPG Foundation have announced grants totaling more than $1.5 million in support of community relief efforts and emerging recovery needs created by the public health crisis, in the Pittsburgh region and elsewhere. Grants include $520,000 in support of local organizations serving those most at risk in PPG communities across the globe; $375,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; $275,000 to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Emergency Action Fund at the Pittsburgh Foundation; and $150,000 to Feeding America.

The PSEG Foundation in Newark, New Jersey, has announced commitments totaling $2.5 million for COVID-19 relief efforts, including a $1 million donation to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. In coming months, the foundation will award grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to regional nonprofits such as food banks and health and social services organizations working to support those impacted medically, socially, and/or economically by the coronavirus.

Publix has announced an initiative to purchase fresh produce and milk from Florida produce farmers and dairy farmers in the Southeast impacted by COVID-related closures and donate those products to Feeding America member food banks in communities where the company operates. Launched in response to numerous reports of farmers discarding produce and milk they can't sell — mostly as a result of school, restaurant, and hotel closures — the initiative is expected to run for several weeks.

Sam's Club has announced a $1 million donation to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in support of efforts to help small businesses impacted by the economic fallout from the spread of COVID-19. The donation will fund emergency grants of $10,000 awarded through the LISC Rapid Relief and Resiliency Fund, with priority given to small businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, and other underserved populations.

The S&P Global Foundation has announced a second and final round of grants from its initial $2 million commitment in support of the global response to the pandemic, with a focus on addressing food security and healthcare needs in India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Grants also were awarded to Project HOPE, the New York State COVID-19 First Responders Fund, the New York City Police Foundation, and the New York City Fire Department Foundation. In addition, the S&P Global Foundation announced a new commitment of $2 million in support of small businesses; grantees include Accion International, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Save Small Business Fund, and MicroMentor.

The Siemens Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.5 million to community health centers in twelve U.S. cities struggling to provide affordable health care to the uninsured and medically underserved. Grant recipients include Chase Brexton Health Services (Baltimore), Daughters of Charity Services/Marillac Community Health Center (New Orleans), International Community Health Services (Seattle), Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Health Care (Washington, D.C.), Newark Community Health Centers (Newark), STRIDE Community Health Center (Denver), Watts Healthcare Corporation (Los Angeles), and Western Wayne Family Health Centers (Detroit).

Stanley Black & Decker has announced a commitment of more than $10 million to address impacts of the coronavirus. Financial commitments include $4 million to NGOs working on the front lines of the pandemic globally, $5 million for a COVID-19 employee emergency relief fund, and a doubling of its match for employee donations to the relief fund or a charity of their choice. The company also will purchase three million face masks as well as other PPE for healthcare workers and first responders in the communities where it operates.

The State Employee Credit Union and the SECU Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, have announced a $10 million commitment in support of COVID-19 relief efforts across the state. Contributions of $5 million each from SECU and its foundation will support nonprofits working to meet food, clothing, shelter, and financial assistance needs, as well as frontline medical providers working to help the most vulnerable North Carolinians during the public health emergency.

The United Health Foundation has announced a $5 million partnership with the AARP Foundation aimed at supporting low-income older Americans during the public health emergency. Part of UnitedHealth Group's $70 million commitment in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts, the collaboration will address social isolation and food insecurity among seniors by connecting them with emergency food services and expanding AARP Foundation's Connect2Affect platform, which is designed to reduce social isolation and promote greater connection among seniors.

The UnitedHealth Group has announced commitments totaling $10 million in support of frontline healthcare workers and efforts to develop convalescent plasma treatments for COVID-19. Commitments of $2 million each from the United Health Foundation to the CDC Foundation and Direct Relief and $1 million to the American Nurses Foundation will fund the purchase of PPE for community health centers and free and mobile clinics across the United States, as well as the creation of a virtual system designed to promote nurses' mental well-being and resilience and recognize their contributions to the fight against the virus. The foundation also pledged $5 million for a federally sponsored program led by the Mayo Clinic aimed at coordinating efforts to collect plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 and distribute it to hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening infections.

The United States Tennis Association has announced commitments totaling $50 million to support the U.S. tennis industry as it struggles with the economic fallout from the coronavirus. Assistance programs include the continuation of "grow the game" funding commitments of $35 million to community tennis programming in 2020 and 2021; more than $5 million to help facilities in need of financial support reopen; $2.5 million in membership grants; more than $5 million in grants and scholarships to grassroots tennis and education organizations supporting underserved communities through the National Junior Tennis and Learning network; and free online continuing professional development for facility owners and managers and tennis professionals.

The UPS Foundation has announced a commitment of $15 million in support of global COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts in the areas of health care, education, financial sustainability, and food security. An initial $1 million in funding will help provide immediate relief in the United States; grantees include Family Scholar House in Louisville, Kentucky; United Way of New York City; Ramsey Responds in Ramsey, New Jersey; and the Tarrant Area Food Bank in Fort Worth, Texas.

We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service — part of the WEC Energy Group — have announced commitments totaling $1 million in support of nonprofits working to address the spread of COVID-19 and its impacts. Grants will be awarded through the We Energies Foundation and WPS Foundation to hospitals, first responders, and food pantries.

And the National Institutes of Health and Foundation for the NIH have announced the launch of the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership. With input from both public and private stakeholders, the partnership will work to develop a framework for prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine and drug candidates, streamline clinical trials, coordinate regulatory processes, and leverage assets to accelerate the scientific response to the coronavirus. Government agency partners in the effort include the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the European Medicines Agency, while participating industry partners include AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, Evotec, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, KSQ Therapeutics, Eli Lilly and Company, Merck & Co., Novartis, Pfizer, Roche,Sanofi, Takeda, and Vir Biotechnology.

_______

"Hoag Donors Contribute More Than $5 Million to Date to Support Hoag’s COVID-19 Response and Research." Hoag Hospital Foundation 04/20/2020.

"Shared Resilience: Update to AMD COVID-19 Response." AMD Press Release 04/15/2020.

"Aflac Incorporated Donates $5 Million as Part of Company's Overall COVID-19 Pandemic Response." Aflac Press Release 04/14/2020.

"Albertsons Companies Commits Additional $50 Million to Community Hunger Relief in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic." Albertsons Companies Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Anthem Blue Cross Donations to Feeding America and United Way Continue Supporting COVID-19 Relief in California." Anthem Blue Cross Press Release 04/21/2020.

"AstraZeneca Donates 3 Million Surgical Masks to Direct Relief for Covid-19 Supply Needs in the US." Direct Relief Press Release.

"Blue Shield of California Foundation Commits $6.8 Million to Support Californians Hit Hardest by the COVID-19 Pandemic." Blue Shield of California Foundation Press Release 04/15/2020.

"Cargill Foundation Supports MN Central Kitchen, Minnesota Nonprofit and Restaurant Community Tackles Hunger." Cargill Foundation Press Release 04/13/2020.

"Cisco Supports #FirstRespondersFirst to Open Four Bright Horizons Centers to Provide Free Child Care for Frontline Healthcare Workers." Thrive Global Press Release 04/21/2020.

Delta Dental Community Care Foundation Pledges $2 Million in Funding to Support New York State Organizations Responding to COVID-19." Delta Dental Community Care Foundation 04/21/2020.

"Dow Commits $500,000 to Aid Great Lakes Bay Region COVID-19 Relief Efforts." Dow Press Release 04/09/2020.

"Duke Energy Foundation Awards Additional $80,000 to Greater Cincinnati Area Hospitals, Nonprofit Organizations to Respond to Pandemic." Duke Energy Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Duke Energy Foundation Provides More Than $340,000 to South Carolina K-12 Education Organizations During COVID-19 Crisis." Duke Energy Press Release 04/21/2020.

"Edward Jones Commits Support for Communities in Response to COVID-19." Edward Jones Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Thank You For Your Support, Facebook!!!." Madison County Schools Facebook Post 04/23/2020.

:The Figgers Foundation Donates Over 700,000 Units of Personal Protection Equipment to Healthcare Workers in Hotspot Regions on Front Lines of Coronavirus Crisis." Figgers Foundation Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Americares Delivers 1.4 Million Masks to Protect Against COVID-19." Americares Press Release 04/17/2020.

"HEINZ Announces Initiative to Support America's Diners." Heinz Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Gift to Address Long-Term Challenges Affecting Education, Income and Health in North Texas." United Way of Dallas Press Release 04/16/2020.

"The KIND Foundation and Project N95 Launch the 'Frontline Impact Project', a Platform to Support the People Risking Their Lives to Keep Us Safe." KIND Foundation Press Release 04/14/2020.

"The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Launches Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund." Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Liberty Mutual Insurance Commits $15 Million in Crisis Grants to Community Partners." Liberty Mutual Insurance Press Release 04/15/2020.

"MetLife Foundation Supports COVID-19 Response In NYC." MetLife Foundation Press Release 04/16/2020.

"Publix Launches Initiative to Help Farmers, Feed Those in Need During Pandemic." Publix Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Coming Together: Support for Small Businesses Impacted by the Pandemic." Sam's Club Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Stanley Black & Decker Commits Financial Support and Expertise During COVID-19 Pandemic." Stanley Black & Decker Press Release 04/14/2020.

"SECU and SECU Foundation Join Efforts to Provide $10 Million for COVID-19 Disaster Relief!" State Employee Credit Union and SECU Foundation Press Release 04/09/2020.

"Patient Safety Movement Foundation Awarded $5 Million to Help Advance Its Mission to Improve Patient Safety and Reduce Preventable Hospital Deaths." Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation, and Competition in Healthcare Press Release 04/14/2020.

"PGA of America Announces Golf Emergency Relief Fund." PGA of America Press Release 04/13/2020.

"PPG Commits More Than $1.5 Million to Support Global COVID-19 Relief Efforts." PPG Press Release 04/14/2020.

"PSEG Foundation Commits $2.5 Million to Support Medical, Social and Economic Needs of New Jersey Communities Amid Devastating COVID-19 Pandemic." PSEG Foundation Press Release 04/14/2020.

"S&P Global Foundation Commits Additional USD $2M to COVID-19 Relief Efforts." S&P Global Foundation Press Release 04/14/2020.

"Siemens Foundation Provides $1.5M Across 12 Community Health Centers to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts." Siemens Foundation Press Release 04/16/2020.

"United Health Foundation Joins Forces with AARP Foundation in $5 Million Initiative to Support Seniors Experiencing Isolation, Food Insecurity, During COVID-19 Crisis." United Health Group Press Release 04/22/2020.

"UnitedHealth Group Donates $5 Million to Support National Program to Develop Convalescent Plasma Treatments for COVID-19." UnitedHealth Group Press Release 04/21/2020.

"Next Phase of Support for Tennis Industry Announced." United States Tennis Association Press Release 04/21/2020.

"The UPS Foundation Allocates $15M to U.S. Community Organizations and Worldwide Non-Profits in Fight Against Coronavirus and to Support the Road to Recovery." UPS Press Release 04/20/2020.

"The Foundations of We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service Commit $1 Million to COVID-19 Relief Effort." We Energies Press Release 04/14/2020.

"NIH to Launch Public-Private Partnership to Speed COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Options." National Institutes of Health Press Release 04/17/2020.

Nonprofits Need Certainty in Uncertain Times

April 30, 2020

 There are people who thrive on uncertainty — people who enjoy the rush of facing challenges with limited information and even less planning. I'm the other sort of person.

For those of us who prefer process over improvisation and who like to base strategy on data and experience, this is an especially difficult moment. The COVID-19 crisis has upended just about every part of our work. Nonprofit staff suddenly have to figure out how to work remotely, donors are dealing with an extremely precarious economic environment, in-person events are canceled, and that's not even the half of it. We are surrounded by uncertainty.

And yet so much of what we've learned about sound strategy and effective direct response is just as relevant now as it always has been. Our nonprofit partners are adapting to this moment in all sorts of creative ways, from virtual events to TikTok engagement to Zoom trainings for organizers. This kind of nimble adaptation is inspiring, but the most successful efforts share a few things in common.

For all the volatility and uncertainty in this moment, the latest edition of our annual Benchmarks Study identifies long-term trends that can ground nonprofits' strategy and guide their decisions.

Let the data guide your response in this moment

Given the challenges of suddenly working remotely and the overwhelming nature of the current crisis, many nonprofits are scaling back on their communications. Don't. Your cause still matters, even if it's been pushed off the front page. And your supporters still need to hear from you, to know that you value them, and to provide guidance in stressful times.

If you are a social media manager, that means you should be posting more, not less. Consider starting a social media group to help supporters maintain a sense of community — anything from a weekly Zoom check-in to a What's App group for your top donors. Do whatever it takes to stay connected: collect stories, bring joy, reach out to your influencers and ask them to do something meaningful. And there's plenty they can do — the nonprofits in our recently-released study reported that Facebook accounted for 3.5 percent of all online revenue last year and nearly 10 percent of all online giving to health nonprofits.

If you are a fundraiser, by all means, fundraise! Be transparent about how COVID-19 is affecting your cause, your nonprofit, the people you serve. Be honest about your fears for the future and about how much your donors matter. Consider going beyond simple mobile optimization and start looking at tools that make mobile donating easier and more attractive such as Apple Pay and PayPal. As the share of desktop users relative to mobile continues to decline, the average value of a mobile user increases. In fact, users on mobile devices accounted for half of all nonprofit website traffic and a third of all online donations in 2019.

Before the crisis, the key to effective digital fundraising was to communicate timely, emotionally relevant appeals designed to motivate supporters to feel like they can make a difference. That hasn't changed a bit. With many corporations scaling back on digital ads due to COVID-19 disruptions, there is even more space and opportunity for nonprofits to reach bigger audiences. Nonprofits invested 17 percent more in digital ads in 2019 than in 2018. That growth reflects a shift in priorities as well as the effectiveness of digital ads for lead generation, new donor prospecting, retention, and re-targeting.

Find ways to take your offline efforts online. Your annual gala is canceled? You can postpone or skip it this year — or you can find creative ways to let donors mingle, celebrate, and be inspired from the safety of their own homes. Your canvass operation is temporarily derailed? Double down on peer-to-peer texting.

With many in-person events canceled and supporters looking for ways to do socially-distanced good, the Facebook Fundraisers peer-to-peer platform, which generated 97 percent of all Facebook revenue for nonprofits in 2019, could be just what you're looking for to supplement lost revenue. The May 5 #GivingTuesdayNow event is the perfect moment to experiment, but nonprofits should consider creating their own peer-to-peer moments. Just don't forget that if you rely on Facebook Fundraisers, Facebook keeps most of the data, not you.

Remember: you know what your supporters respond to, you know why your cause matters, you know how to do good. Don't let logistics and tech get in the way of applying that knowledge and experience.

Plan for a return to "normal"

This is where we worriers, we planners, we lovers of certainty can really shine. Because while we don't know how much longer we'll be sheltering at home, we know that eventually it will end. Use the time now to be ready for that day.

For many nonprofits, long-term planning is the hardest thing to do well. There's always so much going on now that it's nearly impossible to make a long-term plan, let alone stick to one. But with so many limits on what we can do in this moment, this is the perfect time to re-articulate your vision, create your checklist, and commit to making real progress on the other side of this crisis.

That may mean developing a road map to optimizing your homepage for donor conversion. It may mean a shift toward a fundraising model that prioritizes monthly giving and long-term retention over short-term acquisition. Whatever the big, scary, complicated problem you've been waiting for a chance to address — now is the time to tackle it.

None of us know what the future holds. Right now, most of us don't even know what tomorrow holds. But we don't have to be helpless in the face of uncertainty. We have the power to leverage what we know, to inspire the people who are looking to us for hope and guidance, and to create certainty in this most uncertain of times.

 For more free resources designed to put your nonprofit on a firmer footing, see the complete 2020 Benchmarks Study at mrbenchmarks.com or visit our blog at mrss.com/lab.

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Sarah DiJulio is managing partner at M+R.

5 Questions for...Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director, Wallace Global Fund

April 29, 2020

Ellen Dorsey has served since 2008 as the executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, where she helped launch Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of more than two hundred foundations that have pledged to divest their portfolios of fossil fuel companies and deploy their investments to accelerate the clean energy transition. Dorsey and Divest-Invest Philanthropy signatories were awarded the 2016 inaugural Nelson Mandela – Graca Machel Brave Philanthropy Award.

Earlier this month, the fund announced that it would pay out 20 percent of its endowment this year in support of COVID-19 relief and ongoing systemic change efforts and called on other funders to increase their grantmaking. 

PND spoke with Dorsey about the fund's decision-making process, the moral obligations of foundations in a time of crisis, and the longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dorsey_EllenPhilanthropy News Digest: What was the impetus behind the fund's decision to commit 20 percent of the endowment to grantmaking in 2020, and how did you and the board arrive at that amount? 

Ellen Dorsey: We have said for a while now that philanthropy cannot engage in business as usual, either by failing to align our investments with our missions or not giving at a level commensurate with the seriousness of the many challenges we face. Before COVID-19, we were already calling for philanthropy to declare a climate emergency and increase giving levels over the next ten years. COVID-19 was yet another overlapping shockwave added to the list of threats that compounded our sense of urgency.  

For too long, philanthropy has been content to give the bare minimum — the 5 percent required by law — while growing its endowments. Even before COVID-19, the Wallace Global Fund felt it was unethical for any foundation to grow its endowment during a five-alarm fire, particularly given the many financial and logistical challenges faced by our grantees. 

As for the percentage decision, it happened organically. We were already planning to spend a significant percentage of our endowment this year on critical work being done within our core priority areas, and we invested 100 percent of our stock market gains — close to 22 percent — in 2018. Keeping our investments aligned with our mission is something that has long been a board priority. We see this as consistent with the legacy of our founding donor, former U.S. Vice President Henry A. Wallace, and his warning that democracies must put people before profits if they plan to survive. 

PND: In a joint opinion piece with the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy's Aaron Dorfman, you argued that "it is no time for philanthropy to think about cutting back...[instead, it should] give more to address the public-health crisis while continuing to fund existing social and systemic change efforts." You've said elsewhere that preserving foundation endowments instead of boosting granmaking was "both immoral and a failure to honor the mandate that foundations have to serve society." Have you received any pushback from CEOs at other foundations? And do you think philanthropy will take this "opportunity to fundamentally rethink past practices and upend the status quo," especially with respect to the mandatory 5 percent payout requirement?

ED: Ultimately, it's an empirical question. We will see. Right now, many foundations are stepping up and making significant pledges to address COVID-19 and the related economic crisis. Will enhanced giving continue as the reality of reduced endowments sinks in later this year and persists into 2021? The fallout of COVID-19, coupled with the spiraling climate catastrophe, requires dramatically more funding, not less. We have a decade to fundamentally reduce emissions and change the energy base of our global economy while creating more sustainable and equitable systems.

What we need from philanthropy goes beyond simply spending more. Frankly, if ever there was a time to fund system change work, it is now. We need to break the corporate capture of democracy, create new patterns of ownership, change the growth-only measures of economic and societal success, level patterns of inequality, and meet the basic human needs of billions, all while reversing the climate catastrophe barreling down on humanity. Philanthropy needs to support movements that are advancing new paradigms, support systemic theories of change that confront our unjust system, and invest its money in a way that is consistent with these values.

PND: As you've acknowledged, some foundations have taken steps to provide more — and more flexible — support for nonprofits, while more than seven hundred foundations have signed on to the Council on Foundationspledge to do so. Are we seeing a shift among foundations toward more grantee-centered practices? Or will things revert to the status quo after we get to the other side of this crisis?

ED: History shows that there is a tendency among philanthropy to scale back when times get tough. For example, in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession, philanthropic grantmaking dropped by 15 percent. We've been really encouraged to see the groundswell of statements calling for philanthropy to use this moment to break that bad habit. It is particularly important given the unique vulnerabilities faced by nonprofits, movements, and the communities they serve. 

It is hard to say right now whether the status quo will fully return in any sector, but I will say that philanthropy has an obligation to resist it. Getting rid of COVID-19 will do nothing to stop the dire consequences we were already facing as the result of a number of threats, most notably climate change. In fact, if society returns to its established habits of emitting more carbon into the atmosphere, damaging or destroying ecological habitats, and giving corporations free rein to pursue the myth of limitless economic growth, the consequences of climate change will only continue to worsen.

The same could also be said for economic inequality, the rising privatization of public resources around the world, gender-based violence in the Global South, and the rise in misogyny faced by women around the world. There is no vaccine for social injustice. We cannot allow ourselves to be so relieved once the COVID-19 crisis has passed that we ignore the fissures in society it has exposed. Philanthropy has both an opportunity and a duty to partner with people-centered movements that are fighting for systems change and broad, structural reform today, and we must continue to support them in the aftermath of this pandemic. 

PND: This is not the first time the Wallace Global Fund has used its investment portfolio to boost the impact of its grantmaking; in 2018, the fund pledged to invest all its gains from the previous year into organizations working to advance social and environmental justice. Have you seen tangible returns on those investments?

ED: Yes, without a question. We have already seen positive impacts from our funding and there are results to come that we cannot yet see. We fund progressive social movements and systemic change work both globally and in the U.S. We believe building people power is the necessary ingredient to challenging entrenched economic and political interests. We have been funding the fossil fuel divestment movement for over a decade and, to date, there are more than a thousand institutions  around the globe that have divested — institutions with a combined $14 trillion under management. We have funded the youth climate movement, the so-called climate strikers, and those calling for a Green New Deal. They are changing the debate on climate in truly significant ways. We're also supporting groups around the world that are challenging authoritarian governments and defending basic human rights.  

Often those fights seem insurmountable, but defending the front lines is often the only antibody to the virus of authoritarianism and is essential if we are to preserve our democratic ideals and way of life. In the U.S., our grantees are working to transform conditions of inequality, defend democratic institutions, get toxic money out of our political system, and break up monopolies. These are big and audacious goals, not easy to measure in the near term, but they absolutely are critical in terms of the system change work we need. I think it's fair to say we would rather invest in deep change than obsess about lowest-common-denominator metrics. 

PND: What, if anything, do the systemic social change efforts you've urged your philanthropic peers to support — climate action, defending the rights of marginalized populations, strengthening civil society and democracy — have to do with the public health and economic emergencies caused by COVID-19?

ED: It's true that all those issues were issues before COVID-19. For example, we know that seven hundred people a day were dying from poverty in the U.S. before the virus ever reached our shores. But COVID-19 has laid bare the many ways in which it is not the great equalizer many claim it is.

Communities of color have been disproportionately devastated by the virus. Places with higher levels of carbon-based pollution are seeing corresponding spikes in death rates. Voting rights are under increasing threat from a lack of contingency planning and stalled efforts to expand vote-by-mail nationally. And as millions of small businesses were forced to close their doors — many for the last time — American billionaires made more than $300 billion.

These injustices are all interconnected. One of the movement leaders who inspires me most, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of the Poor People's Campaign, has built a movement on the simple yet profound notion that the struggles against systemic racism, inadequate health care, poverty, voter suppression, ecological devastation, environmental injustice, and human rights abuses are not separate struggles at all. We are dependent on each other in our quest for liberation, and our narratives must be bound together if we hope to win.

— Kyoko Uchida

The Nonprofit Sector and the 'Shake Shack Effect'

April 27, 2020

Diversity-inclusion-292x300These days, we're hearing a lot about how federal legislation passed in response to the coronavirus public health emergency is bailing out big businesses at the expense of small restaurants, mom-and-pop shops, and immigrant-owned stores. When big chains like Shake Shack and universities with large endowments such as Harvard receive millions of dollars in federal loans, we shouldn't be surprised that the news is greeted by demands the funds be returned.

Inequities in the administration of such programs aren't just a public-relations concern for well-endowed institutions and big businesses, however. At a time when they are desperately needed, historically-underresourced organizations in the nonprofit sector led by people of color and working closely with communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic are concerned about their own survival. Indeed, the pandemic has revealed many of the long-standing structural disparities that exist in the United States. If, as a society, we are serious about addressing such disparities, then funders and donors who support nonprofits must step up to ensure the long-term survival of groups advocating for the needs of vulnerable communities.

As the COVID-19 emergency unfolds, smaller community-based and people-of-color-led organizations are serving as a lifeline for black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian communities, undocumented immigrants, and queer and trans communities. Domestic violence agencies are supporting survivors, organizations serving Indigenous and African-American communities are ensuring their access to water and health care, neighborhood-based providers are helping people with limited-English proficiency complete government forms, and immigrant-serving groups are ensuring that undocumented people are able to secure legal advice and protections. Beyond these frontline providers, people-of-color led organizations are taking the lead in building power and making demands for structural change, ranging from universal basic income to decarceration to migrant justice.

Even before the pandemic, many of these nonprofits were facing challenges. According to a survey by the Nonprofit Finance Fund conducted in 2018, 65 percent of nonprofits who serve low-income communities were worried they couldn't meet demands for their services, while 67 percent said that federal policies were making life harder for their clients. Our own surveys on race and leadership consistently reveal that nonprofit executives of color face more funding challenges than white executive directors and CEOs, while our 2019 survey found that more than a third of leaders of color (compared to less than a quarter of their white counterparts) reported that they never or rarely get "funding that is comparable to peer organizations doing similar work."

For these and other reasons, community-based nonprofits working closely with those disproportionately affected by the virus should be prioritized in future federal stimulus packages, state supplemental funds, and philanthropic initiatives. Federal and state recovery packages should create carveouts for underresourced organizations working in vulnerable communities so that they do not have to compete with larger, historically-well-funded groups for a limited pool of funds. Given that many small organizations do not have relationships with banks due to historic barriers in accessing loans and because lenders tend to prioritize bigger-budget organizations, the process of accessing loans also should be opened and made more accessible. While efforts are under way in the nonprofit sector to secure expanded access to the Paycheck Protection Program for larger groups and pass a universal charitable deduction, a true racial equity framework requires us to center the needs of organizations working in and closely with the most vulnerable communities. In addition, nonprofit organizations with large reserves that don't need an immediate loan could follow the lead of the #ShareMyCheck effort and opt not to compete with smaller nonprofits and underresourced groups with manifestly greater needs.

For their part, foundations can do more to address the racial disparities laid bare by the pandemic by scaling organizations that are most proximate to needs in vulnerable communities while increasing their support for organizing and power-building strategies. It's also important that foundations review their grantmaking through a racial equity lens to determine whether dollars are actually going to organizations serving the communities most affected by the virus. Foundations such as the Boston Foundation, the Emergent Fund, and the Groundswell Fund have all launched initiatives focused on supporting organizations led by people from and working with communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

It's true that most nonprofits find themselves overwhelmed by the scale and scope of the crisis. But not all nonprofits are created equal or have equal access to the resources they need. As a sector, we cannot ignore people-of-color-led community-based groups working to meet urgent needs during this crisis. To close the nonprofit racial equity gap, we must do everything we can to ensure that these groups not only make it through this national emergency but are positioned to thrive. In doing so, we will be sustaining the communities that depend on them and helping to ensure that they, too, come out of the crisis stronger.

Deepa_iyer_frances_kunreuther_for_PhilanTopicDeepa Iyer is senior advisor at the Building Movement Project, director of SolidarityIs, and the author of We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Communities Shape Our Multiracial Future.

Frances Kunreuther co-directs the Building Movement Project and is co-author of two books, From the Ground Up: Grassroots Organizations Making Social Change and Working Across Generations: Defining the Future of Nonprofit Leadership.

Foundations Step Up Funding for COVID-19 Response Efforts (April 14-26, 2020)

April 26, 2020

SARS-CoV-2As COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States, private foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the immediate needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. Here's a roundup of grants from the last few days:

CALIFORNIA

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Redwood City, CA | $6.3 Million

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced $5 million in COVID-19 response grants, with a focus on increasing access to broadband and high-quality learning opportunities for all children and supporting professional development for educators as well as the social, emotional, and mental health of teachers and families. Grant recipients include the Alliance for Excellent Education ($125,000), Education Trust ($200,000), and Education Leaders of Color ($250,000).

Earlier, CZI announced grants totaling $300,000 to help students in underserved communities transition to distance learning as schools are forced to close by the virus. A grant of $200,000 to EducationSuperHighway will support the Digital Bridge project's efforts to provide connectivity to thousands of students, while a grant of $100,000 to Fugees Academy — a network of tuition-free independent schools in Georgia and Ohio — will fund efforts to foster the safety and well-being of students and ensure the continuity of their education. The LLC also pledged $1 million for COVID-19 relief efforts on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i. Grant recipients there include Wilcox Medical Center, the Hawaii Community Foundation, and 'Aina Ho'okupu O Kīlauea.

Fiske Family Foundation, San Diego, CA | $10,000

The Fiske Family Foundation has announced a donation of $10,000 to the North County Food Bank, an affiliate of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. The funds will be used to provide fifty thousand meals to families impacted by the economic fallout from COVID-19. In addition, the foundation donated $50,000 to the Poway Unified School District Foundation to support immediate and unforeseen nutrition and distance-learning needs, which may include continued meal service and resources for distance education such as Internet-accessible laptops.

Open Hearts Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $100,000

Co-founded by actress and philanthropist Jane Seymour, the Open Hearts Foundation has announced a commitment of $100,000 to launch an Emergency Relief Fund in support of frontline nonprofits in Los Angeles and New York City serving women and children during the public health emergency. Initial awards include matching grants to the Children's Lifesaving Foundation ($25,000), Jenesse Center ($10,000), and Mending Kids ($10,000), as well as grants to Children's Hospital Los Angeles ($5,000), the Association to Benefit Children ($25,000), and Harlem Children's Zone ($25,000).

Conrad Prebys Foundation, La Jolla, CA | $350,000

The University of California, San Diego has announced a $350,000 challenge grant from the Conrad Prebys Foundation to match donations, on a one-to-one basis, to the university's COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. The fund will support COVID-related research and frontline healthcare efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, Los Angeles, CA | $1 Million

Actress Charlize Theron and her foundation, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), have announced a $1 million commitment in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, including $500,000 to help prevent gender-based violence. Together for Her, a partnership with CARE and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, will direct the funds to domestic violence shelters and community-based programs providing critical services, including safe accommodation/shelter, case management, psycho-social support and counseling, helplines, crisis intervention, sexual and reproductive health services, legal services, and advocacy.

COLORADO

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Denver, CO | $90,000

The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation has announced DEI Opportunity grants totaling $90,000 to arts and culture organizations led by and serving historically marginalized individuals that have been impacted by COVID-19. Unrestricted grants of $5,000 each were awarded to eighteen organizations — an increase from the ten the foundation originally planned to award before the onset of the public health crisis.

FLORIDA

Lewis Prize for Music, Coral Gables, FL | $1 Million

The Lewis Prize for Music has announced the launch of a COVID-19 Community Response Fund with a $1 million commitment in support of creative youth development (CYD) organizations responding to the needs of youth impacted by the public health emergency. Grants ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 will provide direct support to music organizations and leaders taking a leadership role in addressing the impacts of the virus.

INDIANA

George and Frances Ball Foundation, Muncie, IN | $200,000

The George and Frances Ball Foundation has announced grants totaling $200,000 to local nonprofits working to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Recipients include Back to School Teachers Store, for the purchase of supplies to include in home-learning kits for Muncie Community Schools elementary students; Christian Ministries, for the purchase of cleaning supplies for shelters as well as food pantry distributions; and the Muncie Children's Museum, to offset operational expenses and costs associated with the development of online programming.

Lilly Endowment, Indianapolis, IN | $1.1 Million

The United Way of the Wabash Valley has announced a $1.1 million COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant from the Lilly Endowment and Indiana United Ways. The funds will support the Wabash Valley COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which was launched in partnership with the Wabash Valley Community Foundation to assist human services organizations working to meet the COVID-related financial needs of individuals and families not eligible for government or other relief programs.

MARYLAND

Horizon Foundation, Columbia, MD | $1 Million

The Horizon Foundation has announced grants totaling $1 million in support of frontline Howard County healthcare workers and institutions, mental health services, and efforts to enable safe distancing in the county's homeless shelter and residential programs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Recipients include Howard County General Hospital ($500,000), Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center ($50,000), and the Arc of Howard County ($50,000).

Robert I. Schattner Foundation, Rockville, MD | $105,000

The American Kidney Fund has announced a contribution of $105,000 from the Robert I. Schattner Foundation to its Coronavirus Emergency Fund in support of low-income dialysis patients and those who have recently received transplants. The grant will provide emergency assistance to patients in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia who need help paying for food, transportation, medications, and/or medical supplies.

MASSACHUSETTS

Ruderman Family Foundation, Boston, MA | $110,000

The Ruderman Family Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant in support of mental health services for medical professionals at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Boston Globe reports. The foundation also contributed $10,000 to the Boston Police Foundation to expand clinic hours for police officers who want to talk confidentially to a mental health professional.

NEW YORK

Bloomberg Philanthropies, New York, NY | $10 Million

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $10 million commitment to the International Rescue Committee in support of efforts to mitigate the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID-19, as well as secondary impacts on vulnerable populations globally. The flexible funding will allow IRC to pivot its COVID-related efforts to where they are needed most in the more than forty countries and twenty U.S. cities where it is working on the front lines of the pandemic.

Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, New York, NY | $4.9 Million

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust — which is headquartered in New York City but has a program office in South Dakota — has announced grants totaling $4.9 million in support of efforts to care for COVID-19 patients and protect frontline healthcare workers in the Dakotas and Mountain West region. To help reduce the risk of infection to healthcare workers performing hands-on CPR on COVID-19 patients, the foundation awarded $4.7 million to medical facilities in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming to help them purchase more than three hundred and fifty LUCAS mechanical CPR devices. In addition, a $200,000 grant to the American Heart Association will assist in creating and disseminating up-to-date training on the use of ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, NY | $4 Million

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced a $4 million emergency grant to the American Indian College Fund to assist college students whose educational progress has been affected by the pandemic. The fund will distribute the money to its network of tribal colleges — which were already affected by historical inequities, structural and enrollment-related challenges, and overly burdened financial aid budgets — to help address immediate needs and support new and returning students later this year.

NORTH CAROLINA

Phillips Foundation, Greensboro, NC | $500,000

The Phillips Foundation has announced a $500,000 grant in support of the Greensboro Virus Relief Fund, which was created by United Way of Greater Greensboro, the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, and the City of Greensboro. The grant includes $250,000 to UWGG in support of its emergency relief efforts and $250,000 to a revolving loan fund at CFGG that will support recovery efforts in the medium and longer term. As of mid-April, the Greensboro Virus Relief Fund had provided more than $1.3 million to fifty-eight local nonprofits working to address the needs of Guilford County residents impacted by COVID-19 and the resulting economic shutdown.

OHIO

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, Cleveland, OH | $5.6 Million

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation–Israel has announced that the Cleveland-based Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation is donating NIS 20 million ($5.6 million) to assist Israeli citizens impacted by the spread of the virus. The gift includes NIS 1.75 million ($494,000) to assist residents of Jerusalem, NIS 1.5 million ($424,000) in support of new immigrant soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces, and NIS 1 million ($282,000) for cultural activities on IDF bases designed to provide entertainment for soldiers and income for local artists.

PENNSYLVANIA

Henry L. Hillman Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA | $3 Million

The Henry L. Hillman Foundation has announced commitments totaling $4 million in support of COVID-19 response efforts, including a previously announced $1 million contribution to launch the Pittsburgh Foundation's Emergency Action Fund. The other commitments include $350,000 to help Allegheny County meet the immediate needs of vulnerable residents and grants totaling $1.65 million in basic needs support for nonprofits serving vulnerable communities; $115,000 to the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research; $250,000 to Global Links to coordinate personal protective equipment (PPE) supply and distribution and other equipment needs for frontline responders; and $700,000 in gap funding for minority- and women-led businesses and nonprofits in the region.

WASHINGTON

Russell Family Foundation, Gig Harbor, WA | $1.7 Million

The Russell Family Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.7 million in support of local COVID-19 response and relief efforts. Grants include $1 million to the Pierce County Connected Fund to fund services for residents impacted by the public health crisis; $670,000 in unrestricted general operating support — converted from Environmental Education grants — for twenty-six nonprofits; and $25,000 to RAIN Incubator in support of its efforts to boost regional COVID-19 testing capacity.

WEST VIRGINIA

Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon, Buckhannon, WV | $4 Million

The Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannonhas announced a first round of grants totaling $100,000 from its COVID-19 Emergency Response Initiative in support of nonprofits and local agencies serving communities in Barbour, Lewis, Randolph, Upshur, and Webster counties. Grant recipients include the Mountaineer Food Bank, which was awarded $50,000 in support of twenty-three local food pantries, mobile markets, and food box distributions; and West Virginia Local Health, which will receive $50,000 in support of its efforts to assist each of the five county health departments with key activities during the public health emergency.

_______

"Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Commits $5 Million to COVID-19 Response for Educators and Families." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Press Release 04/20/2020.

"CZI Supports Services for Students in Underserved Communities Impacted by COVID-19." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Press Release 04/08/2020.

"Hawaii Covid-19 Daily News Digest April 11, 2020." State of Hawaii Department of Health Press Release 04/11/2020.

"Fiske Family Foundation Donates $50,000 to the Poway Unified School District Foundation to Support Nutrition Needs and Distance Learning for Students During COVID-19 Public Health Orders." Fiske Family Foundation Press Release 04/21/2020.

"The Open Hearts Foundation Establishes Emergency Relief Fund With $100,000 in Grants." Open Hearts Foundation Press Release 04/13/2020.

"Conrad Prebys Foundation Awards $350,000 Challenge Grant to Support UC San Diego’s COVID-19 Efforts." University of California, San Diego Press Release 04/13/2020.

"Charlize Theron and Her Foundation CTAOP, CARE, & Entertainment Industry Foundation Launch Campaign to Fight Gender-Based Violence During COVID-19." Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Announces DEI Opportunity Grants, Awards $90,000 in Funding to 18 Organizations." Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Press Release 04/20/2020.

"The Lewis Prize for Music Announces $1M Covid-19 Response Fund to Support Youth Music Organizations, Communities Amid Pandemic." Lewis Prize for Music Press Release 04/14/2020.

"George and Frances Ball Foundation Grants $200K in COVID-19 Emergency Support." Star Press 04/12/2020.

"United Way of the Wabash Valley Secures $1.1MM Economic Relief Initiative Grant." United Way of the Wabash Valley Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Horizon Foundation Announces $1 Million in New COVID-19 Emergency Grants." Horizon Foundation Press Release 04/13/2020.

"American Kidney Fund Receives $105,000 From Robert I. Schattner Foundation to Fund Coronavirus Emergency Grants for Kidney Patients in D.C., Maryland and Virginia." American Kidney Fund Press Release 04/13/2020.

Gal Tziperman Lotan. "As Coronavirus Fight Progresses, A Focus On First Responders' Mental Health." Boston Globe 04/13/202.

"Mike Bloomberg Commits $10 Million to the International Rescue Committee for their COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Additional Work in Some of the World’s Most Vulnerable Communities." Bloomberg Philanthropies Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Helmsley Grant Helps Healthcare Providers Gain Up-to-Date Training on Ventilator Use During COVID-19." Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Helmsley Grants $4.7M to Fund Life-Saving Technology to Confront Cardiac Threat From COVID-19." Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Mellon Foundation Announces $4 Million Emergency Relief Grant to the American Indian College Fund in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic." Mellon Foundation Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Phillips Foundation Grants $500,000 to Greensboro’s COVID-19 Relief Efforts." Phillips Foundation Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation of Cleveland Donates NIS 20 Million in Covid-19 Aid to Israeli Citizens." Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation–Israel Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Henry L. Hillman Foundation Takes Action in Response to COVID-19: Releases Over $4 Million in Emergency Response Grants." Hillman Family Foundations Press Release 04/10/2020.

"$1 Million for COVID-19 Emergency Response in Pierce County, $670,000 in Unrestricted Funding for 26 Puget Sound Community Groups." Russell Family Foundation Press Release 04/13/2020.

"Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon Announces COVID Funding Awards." Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon Press Release 04/20/2020.

Earth Day 2020 Is an Opportunity for a New Philanthropy

April 23, 2020

Water flowing in my cornfield, like a hundred miniature rivers all at once,
carrying a simple message for a complex world.

Earth-Day-blue-2499-sq-1I clearly remember the first time I heard about Earth Day and someone mention the word ecology. Back then, in 1970, ecology was connected to a hip idea that I understood as "don't litter." The movement to clean up the environment was emerging, and many were moved by the Keep America Beautiful (Crying Indian) PSA — the one in which a noble-looking Indian paddles through an industrial wasteland and ends up shedding a single tear on a litter-strewn beach. (One thing we didn’t know, back then, was that "Iron Eyes" Cody, the "Indian" in the ad, was an Italian-American actor who had made a career out of portraying Native Americans in films.)

When I was about ten years old, my grandfather taught me how to whistle like a meadowlark so I could have conversations with them. By varying the pitch, rhythm, and tone of my whistle, meadowlarks would respond to me, and we would toss our calls back and forth until my mouth became too tired or dry to whistle any longer. The language of the meadowlark is theirs alone, but I knew they were trying to communicate with me. Later, in college, I learned that our planet and the universe are incredibly complex, yet in that field with the meadowlarks, the world was a simple and beautiful place. It was Albert Einstein, I think, who said: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." I couldn't agree more.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing even the biggest players in philanthropy to rethink and readjust their strategies and forcing them to come to grips with unexpected forces that could threaten the stability of our society and the planet. It's enough to make one cry, but if we think of Earth Day 2020 as a new starting line, there are several things we can do to get us moving forward with renewed vigor.

Reject a return to normal. A large part of the globe is trying to look past the pandemic and is hoping for a return to normal. But most of us know "normal" has not been satisfactory or adequate, especially for marginalized peoples. As a result of deliberate policies, millions of people around the globe are subject to living conditions that unfairly aggravate their efforts to obtain nutritious food and clean water, particularly in times of crisis. Truth be told, too much of the global population is not resilient, and far too many of us exist on the edge of a precipice. If nothing, the coronavirus pandemic has taught us that the global economy is dangerously fragile, and when it is disrupted, panic, anxiety, and anger ensue. When systems fall out of balance, as they have over the last three or four decades, significant human and financial resources must be deployed to restore the balance.

Communicate a message of compassion and reciprocity. We live in a world filled with damaged people and people who have been left behind. We also live in a world of environmental limits. We cannot continue to take from the planet without giving back, and we must not continue to neglect vulnerable people. You and I know this to be the case; now is the time to share the message widely and from a place of compassion.

Take justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in your grantmaking seriously. If your board and staff and those of your grantees are not ready for change, you need to let them know that the time for change is now. It is up to you to use your grantmaking to confront asymmetries of power. And it makes sense this should be so. We need the broadest spectrum of skills and talents if we are to develop solutions to the complex problems we face.

Direct your support to local and regional philanthropic channels. Let's be frank: community foundations and other local organizations know their social, cultural, economic, and political contexts better than you do. It's up to you, therefore, to build their capacity to do more of what they're doing. It’s an efficient and effective strategy that you need to invest in, if you aren’t already.

Native peoples have long known that land and water conservation is inseparable from food security and is the responsibility of each of us. I am also firm in my belief that preserving Native languages as vessels of traditional knowledge is a critical component of social and environmental resilience, not only in reaction to a crisis but as a human right. What has been happening in Native communities around the world for many years now is just one more example of the "canary in a coal mine." It's time to pay attention.

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, Earth Day 2020 is our chance to start anew. It's an honor for me personally to be a part of the environmental community during this challenging time. We are principled and moral people. We sometimes make mistakes, but we learn from those mistakes and move forward. We walk toward challenges, not away from them. We commit to do better because we want to make the world a more beautiful place.

Recently, standing beside the spring that waters my property, I understood that the water was speaking in a language I had known all along. Not a language of words, but of sound, a simple abstraction of the glory of the natural world, a world we must love and protect for generations to come.

Headshot_Jim EnoteJim Enote is a Zuni tribal member and CEO of the Colorado Plateau Foundation. For over forty years, he has tackled land and water conservation issues around the world and is committed to conserving and protecting his own and other Native cultures.  

Why Philanthropy Can't Forget About CBOs in a Public Health Crisis

April 21, 2020

Gathering_for_justice_march_kidsIt's become clear over the past few weeks that these are unprecedented times. And the fact that philanthropy has stepped up quickly to fill gaps and protect vulnerable populations — the homeless, farm workers, day laborers, people who are incarcerated — is testament to the increased diversity, in terms of both background and experience, inside our philanthropic institutions.

It shows, among other things, that the hundreds of foundation staff members across the country who once worked at community-based organizations (CBOs) before making the transition to philanthropy are being heard. That said, it's critical right now that philanthropy engage with CBOs, bringing us into planning conversations as thought partners who can help reframe who is considered "vulnerable" in an even more inclusive way.

We are still in the phase of this public health crisis in which "vulnerability" is framed in terms of who is getting sick and who is not. Such framing is necessary if we want to "flatten the curve" and prevent the exhaustion of our healthcare resources. But "sick or not sick" does not capture the full scope of the problems people are, or will be, facing. Because of the intimate, community-focused nature of the work we do, CBOs are uniquely positioned to help philanthropy as it thinks about and continues to provide resources to address the long-term impacts of the pandemic.

In our community of Stockton, California, CBOs have taken up the calls of community members and pushed for their concerns in a coordinated way. For instance, Justice League CA, a volunteer organization powered by The Gathering for Justice, advocated forcefully for the city to close its schools in response to the spread of COVID-19 but urged it to continue to provide free lunch and work plans to students and families who needed them. The Gathering also is one of the CBOs working with Mayor Michael Tubbs on Stockton Strong, a city-sponsored webpage that is constantly updated with information about mental health, housing, and food assistance resources, emergency funds, and other critical services. We've also led calls for San Joaquin County to release youth held in juvenile facilities for low-level offenses, as well as adults held in jails and prisons, in order to reduce density among the county's incarcerated population, and we continue to advocate for additional funding of reentry services.

We've always been intentional about making our work accessible to the communities we serve. But CBOs like ours urgently need philanthropy's consistent support as we work to meet communities' short- and long-term needs. Even as the number of COVID infections nationally rises, staying at home is not an option for many Americans — whether it's because their economic situation forces them to live in cramped quarters with others, they are victims of domestic violence, or they must navigate stressors such as drug abuse. Similarly, many of the outlets that young people take for granted like playing sports or music have been put on hold. This can lead to an increased risk of encounters with police as structured time turns into unstructured time — encounters that often are dangerous and even deadly for young black and brown people. Individuals who cycle through our jails, detention centers, halfway houses, foster care group homes, and other institutional environments — where frequent handwashing or keeping a safe distance from others is difficult if not impossible — also are more likely to come into contact with the virus.

Unfortunately, it's becoming clear that, as resources are prioritized for and shifted to address the public health emergency, CBOs aren't going to receive the same amount of funding they've come to rely on. Most CBOs operate on extremely lean budgets, stretching dollars and regularly "making miracles happen" as they work to meet needs in their communities. During the 2008 financial crisis, many CBOs went under, resulting in adverse consequences for low-income people, migrants and undocumented individuals and families, LGBTQIA+ young people, people formerly or currently incarcerated, people with disabilities, and other groups often struggling on the margins of society.

Now, as then, COVID-19 is forcing us to look at how we show up for each other. What does dignity look like when parents working two and often three jobs have to scramble to replace the child care and nutrition provided by local schools, or are forced to stand in line outside a food pantry as bags of desperately needed staples are passed through a door? What does community healing mean when a public health crisis leads to the mass closure of "mom-and-pop" businesses that millions rely on? What does "beloved community" and restorative justice look like as we all try to navigate a period of increased social and economic stress?

As the Federal Reserve and federal government move to support small businesses with lower interest rates and paycheck protection programs, it's essential that philanthropy step up to support CBOs struggling to keep their heads above water. At this critical moment in our history, we urge philanthropic organizations to think of us as not only as vital community resources but as thought partners who know what vulnerable populations want and need. We will do more with less if we have to, but our capacity to help is critical if marginalized communities are to survive this public health crisis. In the coming weeks and months, we need to be with at the table with philanthropy so that the strategies it crafts to help these communities survive are more comprehensive, holistic, and just.

Carmen Perez_Jasmine_Dellafosse_for_PhilanTopicCarmen Perez is president and CEO and Jasmine Dellafosse is senior regional organizer at The Gathering for Justice.

Are Foundations Equipped to Help Nonprofits Survive the Pandemic?

April 16, 2020

Inclusion and diversityWith close to 100,000 active foundations and collective annual giving of nearly $87 billion, America has the largest philanthropic sector in the world. While that pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars the federal government and Federal Reserve are pumping into the economy, it can be a lifeline to nonprofits, many of which have precious little cash to burn and are caught in the crossfire of overwhelming demand and an existential struggle for their own survival.

So, one answer to the question posed by the title of this piece is a resounding "yes." Foundations have a lot of what nonprofits need most right now, namely money. Candid research tells us that, even when faced with volatile markets, foundations, on the whole, step up during recessions and go beyond their required minimum payout rate of 5 percent. Indeed, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, foundations have been quick to throw out a lifeline. A tracking site created by Candid has already logged $6.7 billion in foundation grants globally and a rapidly growing list of coronavirus relief funds and requests for proposals.

The current public health emergency also is showing us that philanthropy — an impossibly diverse field of individualized private institutions — can learn from the past. More than a few foundations have notified nonprofits that their current grants, many of which were heavily conditioned by expected outcomes, budget restrictions, and theories of change, can be converted to general operating support. That page in the playbook was developed in the weeks following the 2004 South Asian tsunami, which immediately transformed small coastal nonprofits into first responders. At the time, a handful of foundations experimented by turning existing grants for sustainable fishing projects, ecotourism, and small business development into cash that could be used however the grantees saw fit. Those kinds of best practices have been codified by the excellent Center for Disaster Philanthropy and are available for all donors to adapt to their own purposes.

But while some foundations have learned to move money swiftly in times of need, many still are hampered by a critical talent gap when it comes to helping their nonprofit partners survive a crisis like the spread of Sars-CoV-2. In larger staffed foundations, the recommendations on how to spend grant budgets almost always originate with program officers. Recruited for their expertise in a given field, foundation program officers typically have training in the social sciences, business, or law. Some are of a more scholarly bent, others are activists at heart, but most have one thing in common: they have never actually had the experience of running a nonprofit organization.

I speak from my own experience, which includes several decades working in foundations. Everyone in those foundations was exceedingly smart, articulate, and had seen enough good and bad projects and organizations to give them valuable knowledge of the nonprofit world. But much like that possessed by consultants, our knowledge was more theoretical and our interventions more short-term and episodic. I remember a day at the Ford Foundation when I turned to one of my mentors and asked, "What do any of us really know about running an organization?" Our actual lived organizational experience was limited to that of an institution in which the amount of money available to spend might fluctuate a bit from year to year but in the end was always there, thanks to the endowment.

That all changed the day I started as president of Foundation Center, now Candid. It was October 1, 2008, just two weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed and the bottom fell out of the global economy. Immediately, I was faced with the real-life challenges of meeting payroll, covering rent, selling products and services to a panicked customer base, and raising money in the most unfavorable climate imaginable. More than a decade later, I again find myself staring down a perfect storm — although this time it's a pandemic and a recession combined. Truth be told, in the 11-plus years since 2008 the pressure has never really let up. Balancing income and expenses is a juggling act that goes down to the wire every year, before starting all over again on January 1. And all that juggling is in service to a mission — even more so in an existential crisis like our present one. Running a nonprofit is an intensely real-time proposition; working as a program officer was not.

Groups like Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and the Center for Effective Philanthropy have studied how professionals with nonprofit experience make better program officers. There are some with that kind of background, but I would like to see more, particularly individuals who have been nonprofit executives. After years of laboring in the fundraising mines, many would jump at the opportunity to work in an endowed institution and be able to contribute to the development of effective, experienced-based strategies designed to help grantees survive a crisis. In the same way that foundations have learned to convert their restricted grants into general operating support in times of need, I hope that on the other side of this crisis foundations will enrich their in-house talent with nonprofit leaders who can help them better prepare for the next crisis.

One thing is sure. Shocks, whether natural disasters, pandemics, deep recessions, or any combination thereof, will continue to occur. And so long as foundations are ready with financial resources, best practices, and talent, the social sector will survive and thrive.

Headshot_brad_smithBradford K. Smith is the president of Candid. This post originally appeared on the Candid blog.

Corporations Ramp Up Support for COVID-19 Response Efforts (April 1-15, 2020)

April 15, 2020

COVID10_closeupAs COVID-19 spreads globally and in the United States, corporations and their foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. The "quick-hit" roundup below captures some of the corporate activity in response to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. (In many cases, larger gifts have been covered separately as part of PND's daily news feed.) Items are sorted in alpha order by company name.

For more coverage, check out PND's COVID-19 page and Candid's COVID-19 popup page.

The Alliance for Education has announced a donation from Amazon of eighty-two hundred laptops, valued at $2 million, so that all Seattle Public School students can participate in online learning during the coronavirus public health emergency. The donation will kickstart the Education Equity Fund, an initiative to provide underserved students with access to needed technology, technical support, and additional learning resources.

As part of its efforts to assist communities during the public health emergency, the Allstate Foundation has pledged $5 million in support of domestic violence victims — who are at greater risk when sheltering in place with their abusers — as well as youth in need and first responders. The commitment includes $2 million to be allocated in communities where Allstate has large numbers of employees (the greater Chicago area and Illinois; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; and Phoenix, Arizona); $1 million in support of first responders; $500,000 to the National Network to End Domestic Violence; $1.4 million to match employee donations on a one-to-one basis; and support for the National Runaway Safeline and Inner Explorer's free mindfulness program.

Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance and the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation have announced commitments totaling more than $4 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. Additional support from the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation is expected to push the total to more than $6.8 million. The funding includes $50,000 to the United Way of Dane County/Boys and Girls Club COVID Support Fund, a 2:1 match of employee donations to relief efforts, and a total of $275,000 to COVID-19 relief funds in communities where the American Family Insurance group has offices, including Boston, Denver, Green Bay, Jacksonville (Florida), Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix, St. Joseph (Missouri), and St. Louis.

AppleInsider reports that the software and consumer electronics giant will donate $10 million to the One World: Together at Home benefit, a COVID-19 fundraiser organized by Global Citizen and the World Health Organization in collaboration with Lady Gaga. The event will benefit WHO's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Audible has committed $1 million to launch a free daily meal delivery service for families in need and to keep restaurant workers employed in Newark, New Jersey, where the company is headquartered. In collaboration with José Andrés's World Central Kitchen and chef Marcus Samuelsson, Newark Working Kitchens will fund a hundred thousand meals at $10 per meal, paid directly to participating restaurants; the initiative also will include a mentorship program with Newark Venture Partners and Invest Newark to provide restaurant owners and other small businesses free guidance on how to access federal, state, and local COVID-19 relief funding. The company also announced that the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival summer season will be produced on the Audible Theater platform, enabling the regional theater company to go ahead with its summer season in a new format, provide continued work for the artists involved, and produce a body of work that will be made available globally to Audible listeners.

BBVA USA has announced commitments totaling more than $3.7 million in support of efforts to address the impacts of COVID-19, including $1 million in rapid response grants to select grantees of the BBVA Foundation working to meet basic needs and support small businesses across the bank's footprint. In addition, the company will award a total of $2 million to food banks and community development financial institutions supporting low-to-moderate income communities impacted by the public health crisis and is working to procure essential materials and public health support worth $500,000 for nonprofit partners, including gloves, hand sanitizer, and N95 masks.

Private equity and asset management firm Blackstone has announced commitments totaling $15 million in support of coronavirus relief efforts in New York State, including $10 million to the New York State COVID-19 First Responders Fund. The remaining $5 million will support organizations working to meet food and other basic needs of New Yorkers, including City Harvest, World Central Kitchen, Great Performances, and Slice Out Hunger.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has announced commitments totaling $2 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, including $250,000 to six relief funds across the state and a reallocation of more than $1.75 million in community investments and strategic sponsorships to expedite unrestricted cash awards to help nonprofits meet operational challenges.

The Burns & McDonnell Foundation has announced a $1.5 million gift to the United Way COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund and said it will match individual employee-owner donations to the fund.

In Portland, Oregon, Cambia Health Solutions and the Cambia Health Foundation have announced new investments totaling $500,000 in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts. Grants include $50,000 to the Oregon Food Bank; up to $100,000 to match employee donations to select food banks; $50,000 to address the immediate needs of healthcare and support-service providers on the front lines of the pandemic; and donations totaling $300,000 to COVID-19 emergency relief funds hosted by community foundations and organizations in Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, including the Seattle Foundation, the Idaho Community Foundation, United Way of Salt Lake, and Philanthropy Northwest.

Property and casualty insurer Chubb has announced a $10 million commitment through the Chubb Charitable Foundation in support of global COVID-19 relief efforts, with a focus on financially vulnerable populations and areas facing acute need.

Dunkin' Donuts has awarded $1.25 million in emergency grants through the Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation to community-based health and hunger-relief organizations across the United States providing critical services to families in need, including those in shelters. The foundation also is funding Dunkin' product deliveries to medical staff in hospitals and at emergency sites.

Estée Lauder has announced that its MAC Cosmetics brand's VIVA GLAM Fund will distribute $10 million to two hundred and fifty organizations around the world that are working to meet the critical needs of and provide services to people at risk as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The First Horizon Foundation in Memphis has announced commitments totaling $2.5 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts across First Horizon Bank's footprint. The funding will be distributed to nonprofits that provide food, educational, and emergency assistance relief in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Chicago-based First Midwest Bank has announced grants totaling $2.5 million to nonprofits mobilizing emergency responses to the spread of COVID-19. Awarded through the First Midwest Charitable Foundation, the funds include $750,000 to be distributed to United Way chapters across the bank's markets and $1.75 million in general funds to nonprofits in the communities the bank serves, including organizations that support small businesses and work with individuals and families to secure affordable housing and achieve financial sustainability.

Pittsburgh-based health insurer Highmark has announced grants totaling $2 million to nonprofits helping people in need across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware during the coronavirus emergency. Grants include $575,000 to food banks, $525,000 to human service agencies through COVID-19 relief funds, $700,000 to safety-net providers through the Highmark Foundation, and $200,000 for relief efforts in Delaware.

Kia Motors America has announced donations totaling $1 million to nonprofits working to provide homeless youth across the United States with shelter and care. Recipients include Covenant House, StandUp for Kids, and Family Promise.

KPMG U.S.and the KPMG U.S. Foundation have announced commitments totaling $2 million in support of nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Pledges include $1 million from the foundation and $500,000 from the firm in support of the KPMG Disaster Relief Fund COVID-19 campaign; $400,000 in KPMG U.S. Foundation Community Impact Grants to charities supported by employees; and $130,000 in COVID-19 Relief Grants to a range of national nonprofit partners.

Marriott International has announced a commitment to provide hotel stays worth $10 million to healthcare professionals leading the fight against COVID-19 in the United States. In collaboration with the American College of Emergency Physicians and Emergency Nurses Association, the Rooms for Responders program will provide free rooms in several areas that have been hard hit, including New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

Mars, Inc. has pledged $20 million for COVID-19 relief efforts globally and in the communities where it operates. The commitment includes initial donations of $5 million to CARE in support of its work with vulnerable populations in countries least prepared for an outbreak of the virus; $2 million to the United Nations World Food Programme for logistical support of emergency deliveries of food and lifesaving equipment to hospitals in COVID-impacted areas; and $1 million to the Humane Society International in support of its efforts to rescue pets whose owners are ill or no longer able to care for them. The remaining $12 million in cash and in-kind donations will include contributions from the Mars Wrigley, Banfield, Pedigree, and Tasty Bite foundations.

As SARS-CoV-2 spreads globally, the Merck Foundation has announced a $3 million commitment through Merck for Mothers, the company's global initiative focused on preventing maternal deaths, to help health systems better meet the needs of pregnant women before, during, and following delivery. The funding will support efforts in the United States and other countries impacted by the virus; proposals will be considered on an invitation-only basis.

Morgan Stanley has announced a $250,000 grant to the Child Mind Institute as part of a $10 million commitment for coronavirus relief efforts. The grant will support the institute's efforts to provide digital mental health resources for children, adolescents, and young adults during the global health crisis — including Facebook Live video chats with expert clinicians, remote evaluations and telemedicine sessions, phone consultations for follow up, and daily parenting tips via email, with a focus on vulnerable communities.

Newmont Corporation has announced the launch of a $20 million fund aimed at helping local governments, medical institutions, charities, and NGOs address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Newmont Global Community Support Fund will direct funding to the greatest needs, with a focus on employee and community health, food security, and long-term local economic resilience.

Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation have established a US COVID-19 Community Response Fund to provide cash and in-kind donations totaling $5 million for immediate response and recovery efforts. Initial grants include $250,000 to the Commons Project for development of COVIDcheck, a free public digital health service, and grants of $125,000 each to Americares and Direct Relief in support of safety-net clinics. The foundation also will award grants in support of efforts to bolster local and national healthcare infrastructure, enhance new community health programs specific to the COVID-19 response, and establish digital platforms for related data collection, remote healthcare delivery, and dissemination of public health information.

NRG Energy in Princeton, New Jersey, has announced $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions, including donations of personal protective equipment, protective apparel, and air-purifying respirators for healthcare workers and first responders; contributions to community and small business relief funds in areas where the company operates; and financial support for public teachers' DonorsChoose.org fundraising campaigns.

Identity security provider Okta has announced a three-year, $10 million initiative to help nonprofits move their operations to the cloud during the COVID-19 public health emergency, reach beneficiaries and stakeholders digitally at scale, protect critical data and identities, and strengthen collaborations in support of nonprofit tech. The company also will advocate for new ways to support nonprofits with technology. Grant recipients include ;NetHope, NTEN, and TechSoup.

The Open COVID Pledge, an international coalition of scientists and lawyers calling on organizations to make their intellectual property available for free as a way to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced that Intel and Mozilla have joined a number of other pledge signatories, including Creative Commons, the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital, and programs at Stanford and other universities.

PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation, in partnership with No Kid Hungry, have announced the launch of Give Meals, Give Hope, a fundraising campaign aimed at ensuring that children who rely on school lunch programs have access to meals while schools are closed. As part of PepsiCo's $45 million commitment in support of COVID-19 response efforts, the company will match $1 million in donations made at NoKidHungry.org/PepsiCoGives through the end of April.

The Rite Aid Foundation has announced a $5 million commitment in support of efforts to assist healthcare providers and first responders as well as children, families, employees, and communities impacted by COVID-19. The foundation awarded $1.5 million to organizations working to address the needs of frontline workers, $1.5 million to regional emergency response funds in COVID-19 hotspots, $1 million to Feeding America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and $1 million to the Rite Aid Foundation Associate Relief Fund.

Sony has announced the launch of a $100 million Sony Global Relief Fund for COVID-19 in support of communities around the world impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. The relief effort will focus on three main areas: assistance for those engaged in frontline medical and first-responder efforts to fight the virus; technology to help children and educators who are connecting remotely; and support for members of the creative community in the entertainment industry. The company also committed a total of $10 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Starbucks Foundation has announced commitments totaling more than $3 million in support of global COVID-19 response efforts. Contributions include $1 million to the United Nations Foundation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund; $1 million to Give2Asia to fund efforts in China to bolster training for frontline medical workers and capacity building for grassroots organizations; $250,000 to nonprofits assisting unsheltered and vulnerable families in Seattle and another $250,000 for efforts in New York City; $250,000 to United Way Worldwide's COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund; and contributions to United Way and hospital foundations in Canada.

And with the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic as a national emergency, Foundation Source notes that corporate foundations can now provide disaster relief to their employees. While self-dealing regulations typically prohibit corporate foundations from making grants directly to employees, they are permitted to do so without pre-approval from the Internal Revenue Service in the case of a "qualified" disaster (i.e., one that is federally declared by the president). Provided all IRS requirements are met, Foundation Source further notes that employee disaster relief assistance should not result in taxable compensation to employees and will be counted as a charitable distribution toward the foundation's 5 percent payout requirement.

Have an announcement you'd like to share with the PND community? Drop us a note at matt.sinclair@candid.org or kyoko.uchida@candid.org.

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"Amazon Donates 8,200 Laptops to Seattle Public School Elementary Families, Helping to Close the 'Continuous Learning' Gap for All Students Amid Covid-19 Pandemic." Alliance for Education Press Release 04/06/2020.

"The Allstate Foundation Contributes $5 Million to Help Domestic Violence Victims, Youth in Need and First Responders." Allstate Foundation Press Release 04/07/2020.

"American Family Insurance, Foundations Pledge Support to COVID-19 Relief." American Family Insurance Press Release 04/02/2020.

"Audible Launches Newark Working Kitchens to Provide Free Meals." Audible Press Release 04/10/2020.

"Blackstone Contributes $15 Million to COVID-19 Relief Efforts in New York." Blackstone Press Release 04/06/2020.

"BBVA USA Commits More Than $3.7 Million in Community Support, Offers Special Employee Benefits Amid COVID-19." BBVA USA Press Release 04/06/2020.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Massachusetts Commits $2M to COVID-19 Community Relief." Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Press Release 04/06/2020.

"Burns & McDonnell Bolsters Support of Communities, Clients and Employee-Owners During Coronavirus Pandemic." Burns & McDonnell Press Release 04/08/2020.

"Cambia and Cambia Health Foundation Commit to Combat the Impact of COVID-19 on Local Communities." Cambia Health Solutions Press Release 04/02/2020.

"Chubb Commits $10 Million to Pandemic Relief Efforts Globally; Company Pledges No COVID-19 Layoffs." Chubb Press Release 04/05/2020.

"Dunkin's Joy in Childhood Foundation Grants $1.25 Million to Support Community-Based Health and Hunger Relief Organizations." Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation Press Release 04/09/2020.

"The Estée Lauder Companies Contributes to Global COVID-19 Relief Support." Estée Lauder Press Release 04/02/2020.

"First Horizon Foundation Donates $2.5 Million to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts Throughout Its Communities." First Horizon Foundation Press Release 04/01/2020.

"First Midwest Commits $2.5 Million in Community Support in Response to Covid-19." First Midwest Bank Press Release 04/01/2020.

"Kia Motors Donates $1 Million to Aid Homeless Youth During the Covid-19 Pandemic." Kia Motors Press Release 04/09/2020.

"KPMG U.S. and KPMG U.S. Foundation Pledge Over $2 Million to Nonprofits in Response to COVID-19." KPMG Press Release 04/09/2020.

"An Update from our CEO." Marriott International Press Release 04/09/2020.

"Mars Commits $20M to Communities in COVID-19 Response." Mars, Inc. Press Release 04/06/2020.

"Merck Announces $3M Commitment to Address Critical Maternal Health Needs During COVID-19 Pandemic." Merck Press Release 04/09/2020.

"Morgan Stanley Announces Grant to the Child Mind Institute to Support Children’s Mental Health During the COVID-19 Crisis." Morgan Stanley Press Release 04/06/2020.

"Newmont Establishes $20 Million Community Support Fund." Newmont Corporation Press Release 04/08/2020.

"Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation Establish USD 5 Million US COVID-19 Community Response Fund." Novartis Press Release 04/03/2020.

"NRG Energy, Inc. Pledges $2 Million to COVID-19 Relief Efforts." NRG Energy Press Release 04/01/2020.

Nonprofits Should Be as Powerful as Their Missions: Our $10 Million Commitment." Okta Press Release 04/02/2020.

Anthony Spadafora. "Intel, Mozilla Join Initiative to Make IP Available to Coronavirus Efforts." Techradar 04/09/2020.

"PepsiCo Pledges $1 Million to No Kid Hungry and Encourages People to #GiveMealsGiveHope in a Collective Effort to Fight Child Food Insecurity Amid COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond." PepsiCo Press Release 04/13/2020.

"The Rite Aid Foundation Donates $5MM to Address COVID-19 Pandemic." Rite Aid Foundation Press Release 04/07/2020.

"Sony Establishes $100 Million COVID-19 Global Relief Fund." Sony Press Release 04/02/2020.

"The Starbucks Foundation Donates More Than $3M to Global COVID-19 Relief Efforts." Starbucks Foundation Press Release 04/01/2020.

"National Emergency Declaration Concerning COVID-19 Enables Corporate Foundations to Assist Employees." Foundation Source 04/02/2020.

Philanthropy's Moment: Advocating for and Funding What's Essential

April 14, 2020

5710857_origAs history has shown, crises can present moments of opportunity for bold action while also creating new perspectives and priorities. This is one of those moments for philanthropy.

Right now, what matters most is to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are not disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. If we fail to do that, we run the risk of overwhelming our health systems and putting additional pressure on frontline responders, direct service providers, and other critical organizations and systems.

That is why we, as a nation, need to expand the definition of who is "essential" to include nonprofit service providers — and why philanthropy needs to step up and take action, with both its dollars and influence, immediately. Countless lives, and our future, are at stake.

What is essential?

The answer to that question is food, shelter, and staying safe — basic needs most of us take for granted. These are now the first line of defense against the virus. And while that's true for everyone, it's especially true for the most vulnerable in society, who were already facing daily challenges before the emergence of COVID-19. With current shelter-in-place policies, these challenges could quickly become devastating outcomes.

Right now in Massachusetts, where I am sheltering in place, nonprofit service providers large and small are scrambling to figure out how they can protect our state's most vulnerable people and populations. Many of them — such as food banks and homeless shelters — are trying to address supply chain and distribution challenges. Others are working to solve access problems.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

For years, Boston Cares — the largest volunteer agency in New England — has been filling more than twenty-five thousand volunteer spots annually in support of nonprofit agencies in the greater Boston area. As the coronavirus crisis began to unfold, the organization changed its programming to create new opportunities for volunteering and to train volunteers virtually.

Next, the organization partnered with Boston Public Schools — a district in which 78 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches — to implement a citywide distribution of free breakfast and lunch for fifty-four thousand students at risk of going hungry while schools in the district are closed. It's essential that this partnership continue for as long as it takes for the crisis to play out.

The work of the Justice Resource Institute also is essential. JRI provides foster care to about five hundred kids on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. But it also serves another twenty thousand families by keeping the kids in those homes safe. These days, COVID-19 has forced the suspension of home visits, and so the organization has had to shift to telephone appointments, which makes it much more difficult to assess the risks kids might face in a home.

Many of these kids suffer from mental health problems and are living in potentially risky environments. Without JRI's continued support, things might happen to these kids that normally would have been prevented. What if one of these kids gets hurt or is subjected to violence? If that child makes it to a hospital, what will caregivers there do? What are they able to do? Hospitals are already functioning at near capacity, and emergency rooms are finding it necessary to implement triage protocols that end up with some people being turned away. The last thing our hospitals need is an influx of kids who aren't suffering from COVID-19 but instead are the collateral damage of a broken social services system.

The solutions to these and countless other COVID-related impacts require money — and this is not a time for essential  nonprofit service providers to be worrying about money. That's where philanthropy comes in. I urge all foundations to communicate to their grantees that you are committed to maintaining your funding for an extended period of time and will even tap your endowments to provide support for frontline responders and direct service providers.

Philanthropy also should use whatever influence it has with state and municipal governments to ensure that contract funding continues to flow.

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order on March 30 urging the state's Department of Health and Human Services to "extend financial relief," including "supplemental payments," to all nonprofit health and human service providers in the state and to pay out state monies to these organizations "that reflect the modified ways services are being delivered." Sure, it's a lot of legalese, but the bottom line could not be clearer: in this time of "extraordinary demand" and reduced revenues, "providers that are necessary to keep vulnerable individuals safe in their homes or residences and out of more acute settings like hospitals" deserve our support.

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed in stark ways what is truly essential. As we go through this crisis together, ideas about need and what is important are sure to change. Undoubtedly, we'll also begin to realize that the most vulnerable in society have needs beyond food and shelter — that go beyond ensuring mere survival and, instead, speak to what people who are desperate to build lives of security and fulfillment require.

In this anxious and uncertain time, we have an opportunity, as a society, to establish some new priorities. Although it might not always be obvious, we have the collective imagination and wherewithal to create genuine progress for people across the United States. A newly committed and energized philanthropy is crucial to that future.

Headshot_Andrew WolkAndrew Wolk is the CEO of Root Cause, a Boston-based nonprofit consulting firm, and produces the blog and podcast Finding Common Purpose.

Our Unsung First Responders

April 13, 2020

Neighborhood nonprofit organizations serve as both safety nets and trampolines for millions of New Yorkers. They help low-income youth graduate from high school and go on to college, support newly-arrived immigrant families trying to adjust to life in a not-always welcoming country, and fire the imaginations of New Yorkers through the arts and culture, among other things.

Sadly, low-income residents of the city often struggle with other problems — including insufficient (or nonexistent) health care, persistent and structural racism and discrimination, unemployment, and unsafe, substandard housing — that put them at higher risk for infection.

Since the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., nonprofits have been on the front lines of the epidemic, their staff classified as "essential" workers. They run our senior centers, settlement houses, food banks, family shelters, domestic violence shelters, and supportive housing developments. The individuals who do this work do not make a lot of money. Many have no choice but to use mass transit to get to and from their jobs, putting their health and that of their families at risk.

The emergence and spread of the virus in the United States coincides with the spring special events season, when many nonprofits raise a significant percentage of their unrestricted revenues through walkathons, bike-a-thons, and other large gatherings. As straightened as their circumstances may be, these nonprofits are being called on to do more with less — in many cases, much more with a lot less. Which is why it's critically important that we all do our best over the coming weeks and months to support the efforts of these essential workers and organizations as they do their best to help us through this dark time and create a more equitable future for all New Yorkers.

Patricia_Swann_Michael_Seltzer_for_PhilanTopicPatricia Swann is a senior program officer at the New York Community Trust, where she has been responsible for over $118 million in grants in support of affordable housing, community development, civic engagement, and nonprofit capacity building projects over the past twenty years. Michael Seltzer is a distinguished lecturer at Baruch College's Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at the City University of New York and director of the New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows program.

Foundations Step Up Funding for COVID-19 Response Efforts (April 1-11, 2020)

April 11, 2020

COVID19As COVID-19 spreads globally and in the United States, private foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the immediate needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. The "quick-hit" roundup below captures some of the foundation activity in response to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. Items are sorted in alpha order, by state and, within states, by foundation name.

For more coverage, check out PND's COVID-19 page and Candid's COVID-19 popup page.

CALIFORNIA

Akonadi Foundation, Oakland, CA | $1 Million

The Akonadi Foundation has announced it will allocate $1 million from its endowment to make grants to people-of-color-led organizations and initiatives in Oakland responding to communities impacted by COVID-19. With the public health crisis highlighting racialized inequities nationwide, the foundation has re-launched its So Love Can Win Fund — originally launched in 2016 with the aim of seeding a vision of a safe, healed, and racially just Oakland — to provide one-time rapid response grants of up to $10,000 to meet emerging community demands and/or help organizations cover their revenue losses.

Eisner Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $500,000

The Eisner Foundation has committed $500,000 to create a Rapid Response grant program that will award grants to nonprofits helping older adults combat social isolation in Los Angeles County. One-year grants ranging from $5,000 to 50,000 will support technological or logistical solutions that enable organizations to adapt quickly now and have better infrastructure in place for their long-term work. Priority will be given to intergenerational solutions as well as current or recent grantees.

Heising-Simons Foundation, Los Altos, CA | $2 Million

The University of California, San Francisco has announced a $2 million grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation to establish a COVID Response Initiative at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFG), a public hospital operated by the San Francisco Department of Public Health and a UCSF partner. The grant will enable physicians and trainees to better triage and treat COVID-19 patients who require hospitalization and create appropriate care plans for individuals who do not. The grant also will support COVID-19 screening and on-site testing at ZSFG and help provide personal protective equipment for nurses, respiratory technicians, and physicians.

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Agoura Hills, CA | $10 Million

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has announced grants totaling $10 million in support of efforts to protect the homeless population in Los Angeles from COVID-19 and help African countries prepare for an outbreak. Grants include $2.25 million to Brilliant Corners in support of a partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services; $500,000 to the California Community Foundation; $2.25 million to United Way of Greater Los Angeles; $500,000 to Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO); $3 million to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa; and $1.5 million to UNICEF.

James Irvine Foundation, San Francisco, CA| $22 Million

The James Irvine Foundation has announced commitments totaling $22 million aimed at helping grantees weather the economic storm caused by mandatory lockdowns related to the spread of COVID-19. As part of its Recession Resilience Project, the foundation will provide $20 million in immediate emergency funding to grantees of the foundation's Better Careers, Fair Work, and Priority Regions initiatives working to protect and advance the prospects of low-wage workers, and approximately $2 million to help other grassroots organizations in California weather the public health emergency. The foundation also plans to relax and/or renegotiate restrictions on current grants; reduce restrictions on the use of new grants; postpone or eliminate other requests it makes of grantees, including site visits and progress reports; and continue its efforts to listen to and work with its grantees and the communities they serve.

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Nonprofits and COVID-19: No Money – No Mission

April 09, 2020

Foodbank_feeding_americaWith more than 12.5 million employees and over 1.3 million organizations, the nonprofit sector is the third largest private-sector employer in the United States, after retail and manufacturing. Nonprofits touch the lives of one in five Americans, helping to feed, heal, shelter, educate, nurture, and inspire them. 

Over the last month or so, however, COVID-19 has laid bare the reality of the nonprofit mantra "No Money – No Mission." In our current volatile environment, some nonprofits will thrive, some will be forced to close, and some — with the help of smart, speedy planning — will survive.  

Nonprofits on the front lines of the coronavirus response, including nonprofit hospitals, social service providers, and food banks, need immediate funds to scale their operations. The good news is that many of these nonprofits will come out of the crisis stronger than ever. 

Other nonprofits are at real risk. Smaller, local nonprofits that have meager or nonexistent reserves are already feeling the strain — especially museums, performing arts groups, botanical gardens, and other cultural organizations that depend on ticket sales and walk-in donations for revenue. Meanwhile, nonprofits that rely on galas, special dinners, and events such as walkathons, bikeathons, "mudfests," and other large-scale gatherings are in trouble. 

Even before the emergence and spread of COVID-19, the situation for most nonprofits was fairly dire. In 2019, the vast majority (92 percent) of nonprofits in the U.S. had revenues of less than $1 million, while approximately half (50 percent) had operating reserves of less than a month. These small and often local nonprofits are especially vulnerable to the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders that have been imposed by governors and mayors across the country — and the deep recession  likely headed our way.

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A Moment of Truth for Underserved Communities — and Us

April 07, 2020

Ahrcmrc CloudOver the coming weeks and months, COVID-19 is likely to affect everybody, everywhere, in some way or another. Some of those people will have access to well-resourced health systems and advanced health care. Most won't.

Around the world — and here in the United States — there are people in underserved communities who are feeling scared and alone — people who do not have access to quality education, health care, and, in many cases, even food. In this time of crisis, it's imperative we provide these communities and people with relevant, accurate, and up-to-date information about the coronavirus. They need the kind of information that so many of us have already gotten and take for granted: What are the symptoms of COVID-19? What should one do if s/he has symptoms? Who is at highest risk of infection? And how can you prevent the virus from spreading?

Quality, culturally sensitive education is critical if we hope to prevent the virus from spreading out of control, reduce the burden on our healthcare systems, and show our solidarity with those in need.

But we need to act now.

For the last several weeks, Curamericas Global and our volunteers have been on the phones alongside staff of the Guatemalan consulate in Raleigh, North Carolina, reaching out to the fifteen thousand families across the Carolinas in need of extra support during this difficult time. Many of these families do not speak English. Our volunteers are providing evidence-based information about the virus and serving as an ally and friend to those who may not know what to do if they get sick. It's something we learned firsthand through our work in Liberia during the 2014 Ebola outbreak there: prevention is the most important line of defense in keeping a bad situation from getting worse.

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Corporations Ramp Up Support for COVID-19 Response Efforts (March 16-31, 2020)

April 05, 2020

COVID-19As COVID-19 spreads globally and in the United States, corporations and their foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. The "quick-hit" roundup below captures some of the corporate activity in response to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. (In many cases, larger gifts have been covered separately as part of PND's daily news feed.) Items are sorted in alpha order by company name. 

For more coverage, check out PND's COVID-19 page and Candid's COVID-19 popup page.

The AmerisourceBergen Foundation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, has announced a $1 million commitment in support of communities, individuals, and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Grant recipients include Direct Relief ($250,000), AmeriCares ($250,000), and Healthcare Ready ($150,000). The foundation also announced that it will provide a 2:1 match for employee donations to those organizations as well as the AmerisourceBergen Associate Assistance Fund.

Amgen and the Amgen Foundation have announced an initial commitment of up to $12.5 million in support of U.S. and global relief efforts to address critical needs in communities affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The funds will be used to support emergency response efforts in communities where Amgen operates, patient-focused organizations that are mounting their own response efforts, and international relief efforts led by Direct Relief and International Medical Corps; in addition, the Amgen Foundation will match donations by Amgen employees for relief efforts.

AT&T has launched a $10 million Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund with a $1 million grant to Khan Academy in support of the organization's efforts to expand existing online learning resources and develop new resources specifically designed to address school closures. The fund also will provide resources in support of efforts to maintain meaningful connections for those isolated from family and friends.

Sustainable energy company AVANGRID and the Avangrid Foundation in Orange, Connecticut, have announced commitments totaling $2 million in support of nonprofits working to address the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities in the company's service area. To that end, the company will provide $1 million for emergency needs, while the foundation will award $1 million in emergency response funding to its partners nationwide.

Bacardi Limited — in collaboration with Another Round, Another Rally, the James Beard Foundation, and the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation — has launched a $3 million initiative to provide bars and bartenders impacted by COVID-19-related shutdowns.

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5 Questions for...Naveen Rao, Senior Vice President, Health Initiative, Rockefeller Foundation

April 03, 2020

After leading Merck for Mothers, a ten-year, $500 million effort launched by pharmaceutical giant Merck aimed at reducing maternal mortality rates around the world, Dr. Naveen Rao joined the Rockefeller Foundation in 2018 as senior vice president of the Health initiative. Today, he leads a team working to advance the foundation's Precision Public Health initiative, which is focused on empowering community health workers with actionable data-driven insights they can use to improve health outcomes in their communities. Launched in September 2019, the initiative builds on the foundation's past efforts to ensure that communities everywhere receive the right care at the right time.

Philanthropy News Digest spoke with Rao about how the novel coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide in the public health sphere and how philanthropy can help address the immediate impacts of COVID-19 and build a healthier global community going forward.

Heasdhot_Naveen RaoPhilanthropy News Digest: Should we have seen this pandemic coming? Why weren’t we better prepared?

Naveen Rao: Absolutely, yes. Given increasing urbanization around the world, the way we all travel so much more, how much closer we're living to nature — yes, we absolutely should have seen this pandemic coming.

Why weren't we better prepared? I believe it's related to the trend toward nationalization and siloed thinking. When it comes to public health, we tend to vacillate between neglect and panic. In peace time, when things are quiet, our public health systems are mostly neglected. Funding is withdrawn. We tend to underplay their importance. And then when a threat emerges, we hit the panic button, like we're doing now, and wring our hands and say, "Why weren't we better prepared?"

The fact that we're not better prepared speaks to that kind of siloed thinking and the degree to which we've been supporting, or not supporting, our public health systems, especially in terms of data and data science, which have empowered so many industries around us and changed life as we know it in profound ways. But when it comes to public health and our public health system, we still have the system we had a hundred years ago.

PND: Have we learned any lessons from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-20? And what lessons from that pandemic did we forget?

NR: Whether it's the Spanish flu or COVID-19, viruses do what they are meant to do, which is try to replicate themselves. That hasn't changed, and the lessons we've learned haven't changed, either. A hundred years on, we're still dealing with COVID-19 the same way we dealt with the Spanish flu. We're dealing with a twenty-first century problem with a twentieth-century mindset.

The Spanish flu took a while to really kick in because the world wasn't as interconnected in 1918 as it is today. But if COVID has been exacerbated by our connectedness and general population density and international travel, we still have limited data on who has been infected.

Large-scale testing would enable us to determine who is infected but not yet showing symptoms, isolate and monitor them over time so they could be treated if they started getting worse, rather than waiting for people to feel sick before they get tested. Without this data we don't really know who to isolate or quarantine and therefore can't control COVID's spread.

For the moment, we're using a very blunt instrument called "social distancing." It's effective and we should continue this, but we need more than that. As I said, we were not prepared, we forgot some of the lessons of the past, and now we're wondering how that happened. But the path forward is pretty clear: all of us need to pay attention, a lot more attention, to public health.

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Funding in the Time of COVID-19: Questions to Deepen Racial Equity

April 02, 2020

RacehandWe are witnessing a proliferation of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic from the philanthropic sector, as private foundations, other grantmaking institutions, and philanthropy-serving organizations design and launch a variety of efforts.

For those funders that have articulated a commitment to racial equity in their work, the call to prioritize equity is all the more imperative during times of crisis. We know from experience that when institutions act fast, they are more likely to act on biases that reinforce, generate, and/or exacerbate inequities that negatively impact people of color, disabled people, and queer people.

In order to curtail the harmful impacts that acting fast often has on communities of color, in particular, I offer a list of questions that funders prioritizing racial equity should be asking. These speak to common racial biases often observed among grantmaking organizations — biases the sector should be more aware of and skilled at addressing as it designs, implements, and evaluates its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is your response race-silent or race-explicit? Experience tells us that race-silent analyses and strategies often reinforce and exacerbate racial inequities. Race-silent language in philanthropic work also tends to reinforce racial biases among staff, grantees, donors, and organizational partners. A better strategy is to name race and racism in your diagnosis of the problem and the design of your response to it. Are you clear about the root causes of racial inequities at play? Do you understand how the problem is negatively impacting Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, and Arab/Middle Eastern people? Do your strategies address the specificities and nuances of the increased threats communities of color are facing?

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